Monday, August 17, 2009

Australian community’s attitude towards H1N1 flu pandemic

Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Abstract

Objective: To ascertain the beliefs, perceived risks and initial attitudes of the Australian community towards the influenza pandemic declared by the World Health Organization in response to the emergence of an A(H1N1) influenza subtype.

Design, setting and participants:
Cross-sectional survey of Sydney residents during WHO Phase 5 of pandemic (H1N1) 2009. Members of the public were approached in shopping and pedestrian malls in seven areas of Sydney between 2 May and 29 May 2009 to undertake the survey. The survey was also made available by email.

Main outcome measures:

Perceived personal risk and seriousness of the disease, opinion on the government and health authorities’ response, feelings about quarantine and infection control methods, and potential compliance with antiviral prophylaxis.

  • Of 620 respondents, 596 (96%) were aware of pandemic (H1N1) 2009,
  • but 44% (273/620) felt they did not have enough information about the situation.
  • More than a third (38%; 235/620) ranked their risk of catching influenza during a pandemic as low.
  • When asked how they felt pandemic influenza would affect their health if they were infected, only a third (33%; 206/620) said “very seriously”.
  • Just over half of the respondents (58%; 360/620) believed the pandemic would be over within a year.
  • Respondents rated quarantine and vaccination with a pandemic vaccine as more effective than hand hygiene for the prevention of pandemic influenza.

Emphasising the efficacy of recommended actions (such as hand hygiene), risks from the disease and the possible duration of the outbreak may help to promote compliance with official advice.

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