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      Pandemic influenza in Australia: Using telephone surveys to measure perceptions of threat and willingness to comply


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          Baseline data is necessary for monitoring how a population perceives the threat of pandemic influenza, and perceives how it would behave in the event of pandemic influenza. Our aim was to develop a module of questions for use in telephone health surveys on perceptions of threat of pandemic influenza, and on preparedness to comply with specific public health behaviours in the event of pandemic influenza.


          A module of questions was developed and field tested on 192 adults using the New South Wales Department of Health's in-house Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) facility. The questions were then modified and re field tested on 202 adults. The module was then incorporated into the New South Wales Population Health Survey in the first quarter of 2007. A representative sample of 2,081 adults completed the module. Their responses were weighted against the state population.


          The reliability of the questions was acceptable with kappa ranging between 0.25 and 0.51. Overall 14.9% of the state population thought pandemic influenza was very or extremely likely to occur; 45.5% were very or extremely concerned that they or their family would be affected by pandemic influenza if it occurred; and 23.8% had made some level of change to the way they live their life because of the possibility of pandemic influenza. In the event of pandemic influenza, the majority of the population were willing to: be vaccinated (75.4%), be isolated (70.2%), and wear a face mask (59.9%). People with higher levels of threat perception are significantly more likely to be willing to comply with specific public health behaviours.


          While only 14.9% of the state population thought pandemic influenza was very or extremely likely to occur, a significantly higher proportion were concerned for self and family should a pandemic actually occur. The baseline data collected in this survey will be useful for monitoring changes over time in the population's perceptions of threat, and preparedness to comply with specific public health behaviours.

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          Risk perception and compliance with quarantine during the SARS outbreak.

          To explore the experience of being on quarantine for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) with a focus on the relationship between perceived risk of contracting SARS and reported compliance with the quarantine order and protocols. Descriptive, qualitative. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with people who had been quarantined during the SARS outbreak in Toronto in 2003. Data analysis was completed using an iterative and collaborative approach of reading and re-reading the transcribed interviews, identifying common themes, and comparing and contrasting the data. To varying extents, participants wavered between fear and denial about their risk of contracting or spreading SARS. Reported compliance with the actual quarantine order was high. However, within households quarantine protocols were followed unevenly. This research indicates the need for greater credibility in public health communications to increase compliance with quarantine protocols and to contain outbreaks of new and deadly infectious diseases.
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            Is Open Access

            A survey of knowledge, attitudes and practices towards avian influenza in an adult population of Italy

            Background Several public health strategic interventions are required for effective prevention and control of avian influenza (AI) and it is necessary to create a communication plan to keep families adequately informed on how to avoid or reduce exposure. This investigation determined the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors relating to AI among an adult population in Italy. Methods From December 2005 to February 2006 a random sample of 1020 adults received a questionnaire about socio-demographic characteristics, knowledge of transmission and prevention about AI, attitudes towards AI, behaviors regarding use of preventive measures and food-handling practices, and sources of information about AI. Results A response rate of 67% was achieved. Those in higher socioeconomic classes were more likely to identify the modes of transmission and the animals' vehicles for AI. Those older, who knew the modes of transmission and the animals' vehicles for AI, and who still need information, were more likely to know that washing hands soap before and after touching raw poultry meat and using gloves is recommended to avoid spreading of AI through food. The risk of being infected was significantly higher in those from lower socioeconomic classes, if they did not know the definition of AI, if they knew that AI could be transmitted by eating and touching raw eggs and poultry foods, and if they did not need information. Compliance with the hygienic practices during handling of raw poultry meat was more likely in those who perceived to be at higher risk, who knew the hygienic practices, who knew the modes of transmission and the animals' vehicles for AI, and who received information from health professionals and scientific journals. Conclusion Respondents demonstrate no detailed understanding of AI, a greater perceived risk, and a lower compliance with precautions behaviors and health educational strategies are strongly needed.
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              Avian Influenza Risk Perception, Hong Kong

              A telephone survey of 986 Hong Kong households determined exposure and risk perception of avian influenza from live chicken sales. Householders bought 38,370,000 live chickens; 11% touched them when buying, generating 4,220,000 exposures annually; 36% (95% confidence interval [CI] 33%–39%) perceived this as risky, 9% (7%–11%) estimated >50% likelihood of resultant sickness, whereas 46% (43%–49%) said friends worried about such sickness. Recent China travel (adjusted odds ratio 0.35; CI 0.13–0.91), traditional beliefs (1.20, 1.06–1.13), willingness to change (0.29, 0.11–0.81) and believing cooking protects against avian influenza (8.66, 1.61-46.68) predicted buying. Birth in China (2.79, 1.43–5.44) or overseas (4.23, 1.43–12.53) and unemployment (3.87, 1.24–12.07) predicted touching. Age, avian influenza contagion worries, husbandry threat, avian influenza threat, and avian influenza anxiety predicted perceived sickness risk. High population exposures to live chickens and low perceived risk are potentially important health threats in avian influenza.

                Author and article information

                BMC Infect Dis
                BMC Infectious Diseases
                BioMed Central
                15 September 2008
                : 8
                : 117
                [1 ]Centre for Epidemiology and Research, New South Wales Department of Health, Sydney, Australia
                [2 ]School of Medicine, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia
                Copyright © 2008 Barr et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 23 April 2008
                : 15 September 2008
                Research Article

                Infectious disease & Microbiology
                Infectious disease & Microbiology


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