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BMC Health Serv Res. 2019 Nov 29;19(1):917. doi: 10.1186/s12913-019-4765-y.

Determinants and supporting factors for rebuilding nursing workforce in a post-disaster setting.

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The Institute of Medical Care and Societal Health, 2-12-13-201 Takanawa, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan.
The Institute of Medical Care and Societal Health, 2-12-13-201 Takanawa, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan.
Research Center for Community Health, Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital, 2-54-6 Takami-cho, Minamisoma City, Fukushima, Japan.
Department of Public Health, Fukushima Medical University School of Medicine, 1 Hikarigaoka, Fukushima City, Fukushima, Japan.



The workforce shortage is one of the major issues associated with the recovery of Minamisoma City in Fukushima Prefecture, after the Great East Japan Earthquake and the subsequent accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants in March 2011. While the radiation risks are often discussed as a major factor of evacuation, little is known about the actual reasons why the residents chose to evacuate, and what enables them to return. This study aims to find the essential factors for rebuilding the workforce in a post-disaster setting by analysing the residents' decisions about evacuation and the return to Minamisoma. In particular, we focus on the experiences of nurses as an example of healthcare workers, who play an important role in the disaster recovery.


The data were obtained through qualitative interviews in a semi-structured form with 25 nurses from four hospitals in Minamisoma City. The interview questions focused on the reasons of their decisions on evacuation and return. The data were analysed by a thematic approach to investigate the major factors which led them to evacuate and enabled them to return afterwards, as well as the support they needed to resettle.


Nearly two-thirds of the interviewees chose to evacuate from Minamisoma with their family. Family conditions seem to be the predominant factor that influenced their decisions. In particular, having small children was a strong cause for evacuation. After a certain period of time, the nurses that evacuated were then faced with another decision about returning to the area; once again, having children, as well as other life factors, such as livelihoods, job opportunities and emotional attachment to the work, influenced this decision. On the other hand, radiation risk was a minor factor. Therefore, we analyse that improved support considering their life situations would contribute to the better retention of the nurses.


We suggest measures such as parenting supports, ensuring job opportunities after return, and psychological support in the workplace as possible solutions for higher job retention.


Disaster management; Great East Japan earthquake; Nuclear disaster; Nursing workforce; The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants

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