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Community Knowledge, Risk Perception, and Preparedness for the 2009 Influenza A/H1N1 Pandemic

Jehn, Megan PhD, MHS; Kim, Yushim PhD; Bradley, Barrie MBA; Lant, Timothy PhD

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: September/October 2011 - Volume 17 - Issue 5 - p 431–438
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e3182113921

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.

This article examines public knowledge, perceptions, and preparedness for the 2009 influenza A/H1N1 pandemic.

School of Human Evolution & Social Change (Dr Jehn), Decision Theater (Drs Jehn, Kim, and Lant and Mr Bradley), Global Institute of Sustainability (Drs Jehn, Kim, and Lant) and School of Public Affairs (Dr Kim), Arizona State University, Phoenix.

Correspondence: Megan Jehn, PhD, MHS, School of Human Evolution & Social Change, Arizona State University, Matthews Center 221, PO Box 872402, Tempe, AZ 85281-2402 (

The authors thank Diane Reed, Andrew Lawless of the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services, and Ken Anderson at Maricopa County Research & Reporting. They also thank Deborah Schumacher, Tanida Rojchanakasetchai, and Wei Zhong who helped conduct this research.

The study was funded by the Arizona Department of Health Services through a Health and Human Services preparedness grant.

Disclosure: The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.