Open Access Research

Alberta family physicians’ willingness to work during an influenza pandemic: a cross-sectional study

James A Dickinson1*, Gisoo Bani-Adam1, Tyler Williamson2, Sandy Berzins3, Craig Pearce3, Leah Ricketson4 and Emily Medd3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Family Medicine, Research Office, G012, Health Sciences Centre, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary Alberta T2N 4N1, Canada

2 Centre for Studies in Primary Care, Queen’s University, 220 Bagot Street, P.O. Bag 8888, Kingston, Ontario K7L 5E9, Canada

3 Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, 3rd Floor TRW Building, 3280 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta T2N 4Z6, Canada

4 Department of Pediatrics, Alberta Childrens Hospital, 2888 Shaganappi Trail NW, Calgary T3B 6A8, Canada

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Asia Pacific Family Medicine 2013, 12:3  doi:10.1186/1447-056X-12-3

Published: 26 June 2013



Effective pandemic responses rely on frontline healthcare workers continuing to work despite increased risk to themselves. Our objective was to investigate Alberta family physicians willingness to work during an influenza pandemic. Design: Cross-sectional survey. Setting: Alberta prior to the fall wave of the H1N1 epidemic. Participants: 192 participants from a random sample of 1000 Alberta family physicians stratified by region. Main Outcome Measures: Willingness to work through difficult scenarios created by an influenza epidemic.


The corrected response rate was 22%. The most physicians who responded were willing to continue working through some scenarios caused by a pandemic, but in other circumstances less than 50% would continue. Men were more willing to continue working than women. In some situations South African and British trained physicians were more willing to continue working than other groups.


Although many physicians intend to maintain their practices in the event of a pandemic, in some circumstances fewer are willing to work. Pandemic preparation requires ensuring a workforce is available. Healthcare systems must provide frontline healthcare workers with the support and resources they need to enable them to continue providing care.

Physicians, Family; Occupational health; Pandemic influenza A H1N1 Virus