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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Private doctors' practices, knowledge, and attitude to reporting of communicable diseases: a national survey in Taiwan

Hsiu-Fen Tan1, Chia-Yu Yeh2, Hsueh-Wei Chang3, Chen-Kang Chang4 and Hung-Fu Tseng5*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Healthcare Administration, Chang Jung Christian University, Tainan, Taiwan

2 Department of Economics, National Chi Nan University, Nan-Tou, Taiwan

3 Graduate Institute of Natural Products, Department of Biomedical Science and Environmental Biology, and Center of Excellence for Environmental Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

4 Sport Science Research Center, National Taiwan Sport University, Taichung, Taiwan

5 Department of Research & Evaluation, Kaiser Permanente of Southern California, Pasadena, California, USA

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2009, 9:11  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-11

Published: 29 January 2009



Epidemiological surveillance of infectious diseases through the mandatory-reporting system is crucial in the planning and evaluation of disease control and prevention program. This study investigated the reporting behavior, knowledge, and attitude to reporting communicable disease in private doctors in Taiwan. The differences between the reporting and non-reporting doctors were also explored.


A total of 1250 clinics were randomly sampled nationwide by a 2-stage process. Data were collected from 1093 private doctors (87.4% response rate) using a self-administered structured questionnaire. Four hundred and six (37.2%) doctors reported having diagnosed reportable communicable diseases. Among them, 340 (83.5%) have the experiences of reporting.


The most common reasons for not reporting were "do not want to violate the patient's privacy", "reporting procedure is troublesome", and "not sure whether the diagnosed disease is reportable". Significantly higher proportions of the non-reporting doctors considered the reporting system inconvenient or were not familiar with the system. The highest percentage (65.2%) of the non-reporting doctors considered that a simplified reporting procedure, among all measures, would increase their willingness to report. In addition, a significantly higher proportion of the non-reporting doctors would increase their willingness to report if there has been a good reward for reporting or a penalty for not reporting.


The most effective way to improve reporting rate may be to modify doctor's attitude to disease reporting. The development of a convenient and widely-accepted reporting system and the establishment of a reward/penalty system may be essential in improving disease reporting compliance in private doctors.