Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Behavioural intentions in response to an influenza pandemic

Gerjo Kok1*, Ruud Jonkers2, Roger Gelissen2, Ree Meertens3, Herman Schaalma1 and Onno de Zwart4

Author affiliations

1 Work and Social Psychology, Maastricht University, PO Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, the Netherlands

2 ResCon Research & Consultancy, Rijswijkstraat 175, 1062 EV Amsterdam, the Netherlands

3 Health Promotion, Maastricht University, PO Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, the Netherlands

4 Municipal Public Health Service Rotterdam-Rijnmond, Schiedamsedijk 95, 3011 EN Rotterdam, the Netherlands

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2010, 10:174  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-174

Published: 30 March 2010



Little is known regarding which behavioural responses can be expected if an influenza pandemic were to occur.


A survey comprising questions based on risk perception theories, in particular PMT, was conducted with a Dutch sample.


Although fear that an influenza pandemic may occur was high, participants do not feel well informed. General practitioners and local health authorities were considered trustworthy sources of information and the information considered most urgent pertained to which protective measures should be taken. Participants reported an intention to comply with recommendations regarding protective measures. However, response and self efficacy were low. Maladaptive behaviours can be expected. Increasing numbers of ill individuals and school closures are also expected to lead to a decreased work force. Participants indicated wanting antiviral drugs even if the supply were to be insufficient.


Messages regarding health protective behaviours from local health authorities should anticipate the balance between overreacting and underreacting. Also, when protective recommendations from health professionals conflict with company policies, it is unclear how employees will react.