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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

Friday, June 27, 2008 General News J E 4
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SAN FRANCISCO, June 27 While a large majority ofCalifornia voters (69%) have seen, read or heard something about the statefacing a shortage of nurses, less than one in four (24%) are aware that it isalso facing a shortage of other health care professionals, such as labtechnicians, medical records personnel, and physician assistants, alsocollectively referred to as "allied health professionals."

Voters express high levels of concern about the potential for staffshortages 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 inaddressing the problem, with three times as many (38%) saying they are doing apoor 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 reducethe health worker shortages by attracting and training more workers fromwithin California rather than bringing in more workers from out of state.

These are the main findings that come from a new statewide surveyconducted among 800 California registered voters in May 2008 by Field ResearchCorporation. The poll was commissioned by Fenton Communications of SanFrancisco 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 healthprofessionals.

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

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

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

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

Greater than three in four California voters (76%) say they are concernedabout the state not having enough qualified nurses and other healthprofessionals to meet its future needs. This includes 40% who are veryconcerned 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 aremore likely than others to say they are very concerned about the problem.

Most voters foresee increased patient waiting times if shortages are notaddressed

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

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

When voters are asked to offer their impressions of the job their stateand local elected leaders are doing to address the state's shortage of nursesand other health professionals, about three times as many (38%) say they aredoing 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.

Strong support for reduci
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