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Using Nonpharmaceutical Interventions to Prevent Influenza Transmission in Elementary School Children: Parent and Teacher Perspectives

Stebbins, Samuel MD, MPH; Downs, Julie S. PhD; Vukotich, Charles J. Jr MS

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice:
doi: 10.1097/01.PHH.0000346007.66898.67
Article
Abstract

Objectives: Schools act as “amplifying sites” for the spread of infectious diseases, outbreaks, and pandemics. This project assessed which nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) are most acceptable to parents and teachers of school children in grades K-5 to K-8 in Pittsburgh public schools.

Methods: During the spring of 2007, the Pittsburgh Influenza Prevention Project surveyed 134 teachers and 151 parents representing nine elementary schools regarding attitudes toward NPIs and their usage by adults and school children during seasonal influenza outbreaks.

Results: General etiquette practices such as covering coughs, handwashing, and using hand sanitizer were highly acceptable to both groups, while masks and gloves were not.

Conclusions: The success of an NPI or a set of NPIs depends on both its efficacy and the feasibility of implementing it with relevant populations. If masks, gloves, and other more intrusive NPIs are to be used in community settings during a severe influenza season or pandemic, it is clear that there is significant preparatory work needed to increase acceptability on the part of the adults. Without such acceptance, it is highly unlikely that children and their supervising adults will participate.

In Brief

This article assesses which nonpharmaceutical interventions are most acceptable to parents and teachers of school children.

Author Information

Samuel Stebbins, MD, MPH, is Director, Center for Public Health Preparedness, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Julie S. Downs, PhD, is Assistant Research Professor, Department of Social and Decision Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Charles J. Vukotich Jr, MS, is Senior Project Manager, Center for Public Health Practice, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Corresponding Author: Samuel Stebbins, MD, MPH, Center for Public Health Preparedness, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, 130 DeSoto St, Room A733 Pittsburgh, PA 15261 (stebbins@pitt.edu).

This research was supported by Cooperative Agreement number 5UCI000435-02 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The authors acknowledge the Pittsburgh Public Schools for their active partnership in this research and the leadership of Donald Burke, principal investigator of the Pittsburgh Influenza Prevention Project.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.