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Health Promot Pract. 2013 May;14(3):364-9. doi: 10.1177/1524839912455643. Epub 2012 Sep 14.

Lessons learned from exploratory research about viral hepatitis.

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  • 1Division of Viral Hepatitis, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted exploratory research as part of planning a national education campaign to raise awareness about viral hepatitis in the United States. The purpose of this qualitative research was to assess the baseline knowledge, attitudes, and screening behaviors of four population groups. Sixteen focus groups were conducted during a 6-week period in the fall of 2009, with a total of 119 adults aged 35 to 60 years in Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; and Houston, Texas. The groups were stratified by Asian Americans, African Americans, gay or bisexual men, and general population. Group size ranged from three to nine participants, and each session was approximately 90 minutes in length. Both awareness and knowledge of viral hepatitis were low among all participants, including those at increased risk for the disease. Little was known about the different types of hepatitis, risk factors, or how the viruses are transmitted. Regarding the last, many indicated that the disease was airborne. In addition, participants incorrectly assumed that if they had viral hepatitis, they would have symptoms and know they were infected. Many participants also believed that they had been tested for the disease since their health care providers routinely "test their blood." The findings indicate that significant and concerted educational efforts are needed to improve basic knowledge of viral hepatitis, as well as knowledge about transmission, risk factors, screening, and treatment. As a result, a general awareness and education campaign must precede and support efforts to encourage screening.


exploratory research; focus groups; formative research; lessons learned; message testing; viral hepatitis

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