Open Access Open Badges Research article

Risk perception and priority setting for intervention among hepatitis C virus and environmental risks: a cross-sectional survey in the Cairo community

Michaël Schwarzinger12*, Mostafa K Mohamed3, Rita R Gad3, Sahar Dewedar3, Arnaud Fontanet4, Fabrice Carrat15 and Stéphane Luchini6

Author Affiliations

1 INSERM UMR_S 707, and UPMC, Univ Paris 06, F-75012, Paris, France

2 Center for Health Policy, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies/Center for Primary Care & Outcomes Research, School of Medicine, Stanford University, CA 94305-6019, USA

3 Department of Community, Environmental and Occupational Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt

4 Emerging Disease Epidemiology Unit, Institut Pasteur, F-75015, Paris, France

5 AP-HP, Hôpital Saint-Antoine, Unité de Santé Publique, F-75012, Paris, France

6 GREQAM UMR 6579-IDEP, CNRS, Centre de la Vieille Charité, F-13002, Marseille, France

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:773  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-773

Published: 20 December 2010



Hepatitis C virus (HCV) recently emerged as a major public health hazard in Egypt. However, dramatic healthcare budget constraints limit access to the costly treatment. We assessed risk perception and priority setting for intervention among HCV, unsafe water, and outdoor air pollution in Cairo city.


A survey was conducted in the homes of a representative sample of household heads in Cairo city. Risk perception was assessed using the "psychometric paradigm" where health hazards are evaluated according to several attributes and then summarized by principal component analysis. Priority setting was assessed by individual ranking of interventions reducing health hazards by 50% over five years. The Condorcet method was used to aggregate individual rankings of the three interventions (main study) or two of three interventions (validation study). Explanatory factors of priority setting were explored in multivariate generalized logistic models.


HCV was perceived as having the most severe consequences in terms of illness and out-of-pocket costs, while outdoor air pollution was perceived as the most uncontrollable risk. In the main study (n = 2,603), improved water supply received higher priority than both improved outdoor air quality (60.1%, P < .0001) and screening and treatment of chronic hepatitis C (66.3%, P < .0001), as confirmed in the validation study (n = 1,019). Higher education, report of HCV-related diseases in the household, and perception of HCV as the most severe risk were significantly associated to setting HCV treatment as the first priority.


The Cairo community prefers to further improving water supply as compared to improved outdoor air quality and screening and treatment of chronic hepatitis C.