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Open Access Research article

Anticipated and current preventive behaviors in response to an anticipated human-to-human H5N1 epidemic in the Hong Kong Chinese general population

Joseph TF Lau1*, Jean H Kim1, Hi Yi Tsui1 and Sian Griffiths2

Author affiliations

1 Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 5/F, School of Public Health, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, N.T. Hong Kong, China

2 School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 5/F, School of Public Health, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, N.T. Hong Kong, China

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Citation and License

BMC Infectious Diseases 2007, 7:18  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-7-18

Published: 15 March 2007

Abstract

Background

The prevalence of self-reported preventive behaviors in response to an anticipated local human-to-human H5N1 transmission outbreak and factors associated with such behaviors have not been examined.

Methods

A random, anonymous, cross-sectional telephone survey of 503 Hong Kong Chinese adults.

Results

The public in Hong Kong is likely to adopt self-protective behaviors (e.g., wearing face mask in public venues (73.8%), increasing the frequency of handwashing (86.7%)) and behaviors that protect others (e.g., wearing face masks when experiencing influenza-like illness (ILI, 92.4%), immediately seeking medical consultation (94.2%), making declarations when crossing the border with ILI (87.1%), complying to quarantine policies (88.3%)). Multivariate analyses indicated that factors related to age, full-time employment, perceived susceptibility, perceived efficacy of preventive measures, perceived higher fatality as compared to SARS, perceived chance of a major local outbreak, and being worried about self/family members contracting the virus were significantly associated with the inclination to adopt self-protective measures. Similar analyses showed that education level, variables related to perceived efficacy, perceived major local outbreak and such were significantly associated with various behaviors directed towards protecting others.

Conclusion

In the event of a human-to-human H5N1 outbreak, the public in Hong Kong is likely to adopt preventive measures that may help contain the spread of the virus in the community.