Public knowledge, risk perception, attitudes and practices in relation to the swine flu pandemic: A cross sectional questionnaire-based survey in Bahrain

Introduction/Objectives: On 10 August 2010 World Health Organization announced that H1N1 influenza virus had moved into the post-pandemic period and hence it is time for countries to evaluate their response to the pandemic. Many studies have been done about the public perception and behaviours toward H1N1 influenza in the western world; however none has been done so far in the Gulf countries. Therefore, this paper investigates the general public knowledge, risk perception, preventive behaviours and practices during the H1N1 pandemic in Kingdom of Bahrain, as a model for the Gulf countries. Methods: The study was conducted using a cross-sectional questionnaire based survey on 771 Bahraini individuals. Results: Despite that the public showed strong adherence to the personal protective hygiene measures, most of them underestimated the threat of H1N1 pandemic as evident in their knowledge of previous pandemics or in their susceptibility perception. Furthermore, misconceptions and wrong beliefs were common, which indicates a gap in the knowledge and practice of the public. For example, most of the public were against taking H1N1 Influenza vaccine and their negative intension was based on the alleged side effects of the vaccine. Conclusion: This study provides a baseline for an ongoing surveillance programme to help the local authorities in improving their pandemic preparatory plans, especially the governmental educational and media campaign. Keywords: Epidemiology, Swine flu (H1N1 influenza A), Pandemic, Prevention and control, General Public, Kingdom of Bahrain.

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