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Pain Research and Management
Volume 9 (2004), Issue 3, Pages 137-143
Original Article

Impact of Attending a Healthcare Conference in Toronto During the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Crisis: Survey of Delegates

Jennifer Stinson,1 Colin JL McCartney,2 Andrea Leung,2 and Joel Katz2,3,4,5

1Departments of Anaesthesia, The Hospital for Sick Children, Canada
2University Health Network, Canada
3Mount Sinai Hospital, Canada
4University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
5Department of Psychology, and School of Kinesiology and Health Science, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Copyright © 2004 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


OBJECTIVE: To describe the impact on delegates of attending the Canadian Pain Society's annual meeting in Toronto during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) crisis in May 2003.

METHODS: A prospective survey design was used. Surveys were sent to all delegates (n=432) who attended the conference, and 294 delegates responded (68% response rate). The survey was developed to determine the level of concern about travelling to Toronto; the adequacy of screening measures; the level of stress about attending; and the occupational consequences of attending.

RESULTS: Fifty per cent of the participants were not concerned about travelling to Toronto, while the other 50% expressed some concern ranging from mild to serious. Concerns included being exposed to SARS and fear of transmitting it to others upon return. Reasons for attending the conference despite concern included a desire for continuing education, decrease in the number of reported SARS cases, and perceived minimal risk. Almost one-half (n=140) felt the screening measures at the conference were adequate, while 4% felt they were inadequate and 9% somewhat adequate. Delegates (n=99) suggested that temperature-taking (32.2%), improved screening vigilance (14.4%), SARS screening forms checked daily (9.1%), strictly controlled entry (8.1%) and adopting hospital screening procedures (7.1%) should have been instituted.

CONCLUSION: Health care professionals planning conferences in this era of new respiratory diseases can benefit from understanding the responses of delegates who attended conferences during outbreaks. Clear communication about the potential risks and benefits, as well as instituting full screening precautions, will help to allay concerns.