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While Most Voters Are Aware of the State's Nursing Shortage, Few Know That the State Faces a Shortage of Allied Health Professionals
Date:6/27/2008

SAN FRANCISCO, June 27 /PRNewswire/ -- While a large majority of California voters (69%) have seen, read or heard something about the state facing a shortage of nurses, less than one in four (24%) are aware that it is also facing a shortage of other health care professionals, such as lab technicians, medical records personnel, and physician assistants, also collectively referred to as "allied health professionals."

Voters express high levels of concern about the potential for staff shortages within the state's health care professions. More than three in four (76%) report being either very concerned or somewhat concerned about this. Many voters give their state and local elected officials poor marks in addressing the problem, with three times as many (38%) saying they are doing a poor or very poor job as feel they are doing an excellent or good job (12%).

There is a strong preference among the voting public (69% to 6%) to reduce the health worker shortages by attracting and training more workers from within California rather than bringing in more workers from out of state.

These are the main findings that come from a new statewide survey conducted among 800 California registered voters in May 2008 by Field Research Corporation. The poll was commissioned by Fenton Communications of San Francisco through a grant received from The California Wellness Foundation.

A majority recognizes that there is a shortage of nurses in California, but relatively few are aware of the similar shortage of other health professionals.

There is a relatively high level of awareness among California registered voters that the state is facing a shortage of nurses. Nearly seven in ten of the state's voters (69%) say they have seen, read or heard something about such a shortage.

By contrast, there is significantly less voter awareness that the state also faces a shortage of other health professionals, such as lab technicians, medical records personnel and physician assistants. Just 24% of voters statewide report having seen, read or heard anything about this problem.

Older voters and those who currently provide care to a friend or relative over age 60 are more likely than others to be aware of these shortages, but even among these segments two-thirds or more have not heard about the shortage of other health professionals.

Table 1

Voter awareness of a shortage of nurses and a shortage of other

health professionals* in California

Shortage of

Shortage other health

of nurses professionals*

Yes, aware 69% 24%

No, not aware 31 76

* Such as lab technicians, medical records personnel and physician

assistants.

High voter concern about shortages of health care workers to meet future state needs

Greater than three in four California voters (76%) say they are concerned about the state not having enough qualified nurses and other health professionals to meet its future needs. This includes 40% who are very concerned and 36% who are somewhat concerned about the problem. By contrast, just 23% report being not too or not at all concerned about this.

Voters who currently provide care to a friend or relative over age 60 are more likely than others to say they are very concerned about the problem.

Table 2

Voter concern about California not having enough qualified

nurses and other health professionals to meet its future needs

Very concerned 40%

Somewhat concerned 36

Not too concerned 16

Not at all concerned 7

No opinion 1

Most voters foresee increased patient waiting times if shortages are not addressed

A majority of voters (54%) think it is very likely that if the current shortage of nurses and other health professionals in California is not addressed it will increase the time patients have to spend waiting to see a doctor or to get treatment in a hospital. Another 30% think this is somewhat likely, while just 11% say it's not too or not at all likely.

Table 3

Voters' perceived impact of the shortages of nurses and other

health professionals on patient waiting times

Very likely 54%

Somewhat likely 30

Not too likely 8

Not at all likely 3

No opinion 5

State and local elected leaders receive low marks rated for their handling of the problem

When voters are asked to offer their impressions of the job their state and local elected leaders are doing to address the state's shortage of nurses and other health professionals, about three times as many (38%) say they are doing a poor or very poor job as think they are doing an excellent or good job (12%). Another 29% offer a fair job assessment, while 21% have no opinion.

Table 4

Voter impressions of the job their state and local elected leaders

are doing to address the shortage of health care professionals

Excellent/good 12%

Fair 29

Poor/very poor 38

No opinion 21

Strong support for reducing California's shortage of health care professionals by attracting and training more workers from within the state

By a greater than ten to one margin (69% to 6%) voters prefer that the state address the shortage of nurses and other health professionals by seeking to attract and train more workers from within California rather than hiring more out-of-state workers. Another 15% volunteer that both avenues should be pursued.

Table 5

Voter preferences regarding how California should work to

fill its shortage of nurses and other health professionals

Attract, train state workers 69%

Hire more workers from out-of-state 6

Both (volunteered) 15

No opinion 10

About The Survey

The findings in this report are based on a random sample survey of 800 registered voters in California conducted by Field Research Corporation, an independent public opinion research company. The survey was commissioned by Fenton Communications of San Francisco through a grant it received from The California Wellness Foundation. Interviewing was completed by telephone in English and Spanish May 6-12, 2008. Up to eight attempts were made to reach and interview each randomly selected voter on different days and times of day during the interviewing period.

The sample was developed from telephone listings of individual voters selected at random from a statewide list of registered voters in California. Sampling error estimates applicable to any probability-based survey depend on sample size. According to statistical theory, 95% of the time results from findings based on the overall sample of 800 registered voters are subject to a sampling error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.

About The California Wellness Foundation

The California Wellness Foundation is an independent, private foundation created in 1992, with a mission to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention. The Foundation prioritizes eight issues for funding: diversity in the health professions, environmental health, healthy aging, mental health, teenage pregnancy prevention, violence prevention, women's health, and work and health. It also responds to timely issues or special projects outside these funding priorities. For more information, visit the Foundation's website, http://www.tcwf.org.

Contact: Mark DiCamillo (415) 392-5763

Kwesi Wilson (415) 901-0111


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SOURCE Fenton Communications
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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