Objective: To examine public knowledge, perceptions, and preparedness for the 2009 influenza A/H1N1 pandemic.
Design: We conducted a telephone survey of selected households in Arizona during the month of October 2009.
Results: Among the 727 households interviewed, one-third (34%) were not aware that the terms swine flu and H1N1 refer to the same virus. Many believed that it is more difficult to contract 2009 H1N1 (27%) than seasonal influenza (14%). About three-quarters of respondents perceived the H1N1 situation as urgent (76%), but only about one-third of those surveyed believed a family member would get sick with H1N1 within a year (35%). Approximately half (53%) of those surveyed intended to get the H1N1 influenza vaccine. Family doctors, television news, and local public health officials were the most trusted sources for H1N1 information.
Conclusions: The survey highlighted a number of important misconceptions about H1N1 knowledge, treatment options and transmissibility. Increased efforts should be made to understand how messages are transmitted and received in the community during a pandemic to improve risk communication plans moving forward.