Emergency nurses’ perceptions of Emergency Department preparedness for an ebola outbreak: A qualitative descriptive study

Pincha Baduge Mihirika SDS1, Dr Julia Morphet2, Associate Professor Cheryle Moss3,

1 Monash University, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Wellington Road, Clayton, Victoria, 3800, mspin1@student.monash.edu
2 Monash University, School of Nursing and Midwifery, McMahons Rd, Frankston, Victoria, 3199, julia.morphet@monash.edu
3 Monash University, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Wellington Road, Clayton, Victoria, 3800, cheryle.moss@monash.edu

Introduction: Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a highly contagious disease with a high mortality rate. The 2014 outbreak in West Africa grew uncontrollably, and on the 8th August 2014, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern. Emergency Departments (ED) in Australian health services commenced preparation and vigilance for people presenting with EVD like symptoms, so that any spread of the disease could be prevented.

Research Focus: This study examined emergency nurses’ perceptions in regards to their own and their ED’s preparedness to manage an EVD outbreak in the Australian context.

Research Design: The methodology was qualitative description. Focus groups (n=4) were conducted at one ED in the south-east of Melbourne. A purposeful sample of 13 emergency nurses participated in the focus groups. Data were content and thematically analysed.

Findings: Major themes emerged from the data regarding organisational, personal and future preparedness. The findings demonstrated that the organisation and the participants themselves had achieved desirable and appropriate preparedness for EVD in their ED. Some similarities and differences from existing published work were identified. These will be discussed during the presentation.

Recommendations for Practice: The findings offer insights into how nurses in one organisation perceived their own, and the ED/organisations’ preparedness for managing the risk of EVD.  Based on these insights different organisations could investigate what lessons their own clinical teams have learnt from being prepared for an EVD presentation.

The presentation will highlight the importance of rehearsing and being ready for EVD or similar risks, practical strategies that can be used to advance staff skills and confidence, ways of keeping awareness of risk fresh. Additionally, factors that were found to help or hinder staff willingness to participate in EVD care will be explored. Moral choices that staff make about their own personal risks need to be understood in and by clinical teams.

Research Significance: General information about nurses’ views on their own and the preparedness of the ED to manage the risk of EVD will be useful to health services, educators, and policy makers.  The research has implications for understanding how emergency nurses prepare and respond to the threat of diseases like EVD. The research provides useful information to deliver targeted forms of preparedness in practice, and to develop relevant education and policy.


I am a Master of Nursing student from Monash University, Australia. I am particularly interested in disaster preparedness and Emergency Department triage practices. I have also been involved in honours project on “Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices among University Students towards Psychological Counseling”. I administered survey tool and administered quantitative analysis. I have published my research project in Publication at Forum of Sri Lanka Medical Educationists first academic session.