Perceptions of and willingness to engage in public health precautions to prevent 2009 H1N1 influenza transmission

Marc T. Kiviniemi, Pavani K. Ram, Lynn T. Kozlowski, Kaitlin M. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Recommendations about precautionary behaviors are a key part of public health responses to infectious disease threats such as the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Individuals' interpretation of recommendations, willingness to comply, and factors predicting willingness were examined. Methods. A telephone survey of adult residents of New York State was conducted (N = 807). Respondents reported how they interpreted recommendations, willingness to engage in recommended actions, risk perceptions for H1N1 infection, and perceived efficacy of recommendations. Demographic characteristics were used to calculate sampling weights to obtain population-representative estimates. Results: There was substantial variability in interpretation of preventive actions. Willingness to engage in preventive actions also varied substantially; vaccination willingness was substantially lower than other preventive actions. No pattern of demographic characteristics consistently predicted willingness. Perceived efficacy was associated with willingness for all recommendations, and perceived severity was associated with willingness for some recommendations. Conclusions: Results suggest that individual interpretation of actions differ widely. The results suggest that current recommendations are not clear to laypeople and are open to different interpretations. These varying interpretations should be considered in crafting public health messages about precautionary behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number152
JournalBMC Public Health
StatePublished - 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Data was collected as part of the Pulse of New York statewide opinion poll conducted by the Center for Survey Research at Stony Brook University. Thanks to the staff of the center for their assistance with measures development and data collection. Funding for conducting the study was provided by the University at Buffalo. Preparation of this manuscript was supported by US National Institutes of Health grant CA106225 to MTK. Funders had no role in the conduct of the research or preparation of the manuscript.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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