(active conversation within... - promoted by DemFromCT)
This new survey was prepared by the American Public Health Association for National Public health Week. It was an all-hazards look, not specifically for panflu, but the insights are valuable. The home page for the links to the .pdf results can be found here.
Selected survey results regarding barriers to prepping are here.
National Preparedness Public Health Survey
APHA commissioned Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc., a national public opinion polling firm, to conduct a national survey in February 2007 on levels of emergency preparedness. The survey found that many Americans' preparedness plans have lapsed in the years following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
|Amongst the key facts:
The term public health crisis does not resonate with people. However, the public is concerned about the events that might lead to one. Comment:I don't think that we can be accused of being bland about calling panflu prep a 'public health crisis', a term no one understands. ;-) But the survey does highlight basic risk communication principles, starting with keeping the message simple and clear.
- Just 26% of the general public thinks it is likely that they or their family will be affected by a public health crisis in the next year or two, and only 27% believe that a public health crisis in the area that they live is likely in the next year or two.
- Yet 57% of the public thinks it is likely that a severe storm such as a hurricane, tornado, flood, or blizzard could lead to a public health crisis in the area they live in the next few years. Forty-seven percent think a serious health crisis from an outbreak of infectious disease such as the flu is likely. An additional 43% believe that an outbreak of a food-borne disease is likely.
Understanding The Barriers And The Strategies To Overcome ThemSo the advice is to get real, get explicit, and get started... aimed at public health people.
The survey findings reveal a deeper understanding of why Americans are so ill prepared, and suggest clear strategies for closing the gaps. The findings help us understand both the non-rational and rational processes at work for most citizens. The non-rational side includes the 38% of the public who say that among the reasons they have not planned is that they simply would rather not think about what would happen in a public health crisis, as well as the 44% who do not believe in worrying about things that may or may not happen in the future.
On the rational side, many people believe that they are more prepared than they actually are. Among the 27% of the public who believe that they are very or fairly well prepared for a public health crisis, fewer than half (48%) actually meet the three-day supply standard.
The survey findings also help uncover the implicit cost-benefit calculations involved in decisions to store away supplies for what the public may perceive as an unlikely need. To raise the benefit side of the equation, it will be necessary to define a public health crisis in a way that motivates people to action. Rather than a dictionary definition of a public health crisis, that only 27% of the public see as very or somewhat likely to strike their community, the survey suggests the importance of defining a public health crisis by its likely causes. To make Americans see the importance of planning for a public health crisis, it is important to broaden the discussion to include the potential that severe storms, hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, or outbreaks of common or exotic infectious diseases, and many other disasters have to cause a public health crisis in their community. The public is twice as likely to worry about a natural disaster (37%) as a public health crisis (18%). They may not really know what a public health crisis is, but they have experience with major storms and they readily accept that storms or other emergencies could cause disruptions in basic services such as electricity, water, transportation, and grocery and drug stores, leading to a public health crisis.
Interestingly, the public (47% of them, noted above in red) at least thinks a major flu outbreak is likely. That doesn't mean they are prepped! But it does mean some of the message is getting out there. And when you consider that the survey says that "44% do not believe in worrying about things that may or may not happen in the future," that's pretty close to saturation.
I would suggest that the survey validates the approach of the American Red Cross and other non-traditional non-public health entities (Flu Wiki included) in leading on this. The public doesn't always see pandemics and storms as a 'public health issue', any more than our health leaders do. Fine... for those people, they may need to hear it from the Red Cross, their schools, friends, local EMS, hospital, Girl Scouts, parish etc. See also What Would Motivate Those Around You To Prep?
And no one messaging will work on everyone. But making the message understandable (do not use "public health crisis"! Just say "pandemic"... it's not that hard) is key.