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Emerg Infect Dis. 2007 Sep;13(9):1307-13. doi: 10.3201/eid1309.070372.

Precautionary behavior in response to perceived threat of pandemic influenza.

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Statistics, Modelling and Bioinformatics Department, Health Protection Agency, London, United Kingdom.


Faced with an epidemic of an infectious disease, persons may take precautionary actions to try to reduce their risk. Such actions include avoiding situations that persons perceive to be risky, which can have negative health and economic effects. Therefore, we conducted a population-based survey of persons' precautionary actions in response to a hypothetical influenza pandemic. For the 5 European and 3 Asian regions that had been affected by severe acute respiratory syndrome, the pattern of reported precautionary action was broadly similar across the regions; approximately 75% of respondents reported that they would avoid public transportation and 20%-30% would try to stay indoors. Some regional differences were noted; Europeans were more likely than Asians to avoid places of entertainment, and Asians were more likely to avoid seeing physicians. This international survey provides insight into what might be expected during an influenza pandemic.

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