What Australians know and believe about bird flu: results of a population telephone survey
The avian influenza A (A/H5N1) virus has attracted the attention of governments and health organizations throughout the world because of its pandemic potential. Despite the emerging nature of A/H5N1, there is limited research on public knowledge and perceptions of this disease. This study is based on a computer-assisted telephone interviewing survey conducted in May 2006 to determine the Australian publics knowledge of A/H5N1, their willingness to engage in preventive behaviors, and their acceptance of potential messages for communication campaigns. Awareness and concern about bird flu is low (lower than a recent survey of U.S. residents). There appears to be widespread support for bird flu control measures initiated by the federal government, although less agreement regarding personal protective behaviors. Our study and those examining the severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic suggest that governments, including the Australian government, will encounter a number of significant communication challenges in the event of a bird flu outbreak. Keywords: influenza; communicable disease control; public health; health surveys
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