Public Perceptions, Behaviors Change and Face Masks Purchase during Early Phase of H1N1 Pandemic

Li-Li Ho; Wei-Shiang Tzau; Hui-Ping Huang; Shu-Chen Yang; Shih-Hao Liu

2011 Vol.27 NO.1

Correspondence Author: Li-Li Ho


In order to comprehend public responses and to evaluate the efficacy of risk communication in the beginning of H1N1 epidemic, we entrusted impartial party to proceed telephone survey to understand the public perceptions, related influential factors of behavioral change and face mask purchase.
Adults over 18 years old were the target of evaluation and random stratified sampling was applied by counties. Telephone inquiry was conducted on May 8-9, 2009 and 1,122 valid inquiries were collected. The result indicated that over 90% of population was familiar to the transmission route of H1N1 virus, over 70% of population increased the frequency of handwashing or went to public places less frequently, and over 40% of people would wear face mask. Influential factors were similar to other countries/regions; and population perceptions/behavioral change was higher than other countries/regions. About 28% of people purchased face masks within 2 weeks, with statistical significance in items of female, knew that handwashing was more important than wearing face mask, worrying about global epidemic, worrying about epidemic within Taiwan, and people who believe media reports not overstated.
H1N1 epidemic in Taiwan occurred in a relatively late period compared to other countries/regions. Government conducted active and clear risk communication strategies which enhance H1N1 prevention knowledge and behavioral change for population, as well as policy supporting and future community infection control. Disease prevention and control depends on population effort, but this could be adversely changed through epidemic changing, specific or exceptional media event. Except disease surveillance, government should continuously communicate with public and monitor population responses.