Health Emergency Mass Notification: Lessons Learnt From the H1N1 Pandemic in Tehran

Mahnaz Ashoorkhani, Jaleh Gholami, Reza Majdzadeh, Fariba Akbari, Hamed Hosseini

Abstract


Background: Timely notification is of great importance in health emergencies. So identifying the most important sources of information used by people in emergencies seems necessary. The objective of this study was to assess peoples’ level of awareness concerning the symptoms, routes of transmission, prevention, and treatment of H1N1 at the time of the pandemic and also to identify their most important source of information.

Methods: Two telephone surveys were performed at the beginning of levels five and six of the pandemic at a four‑month interval on two populations. Using a questionnaire, random phone numbers were called and 662 and 701 individuals from Tehran were surveyed at the two phases, respectively.

Results: Peoples’ level of awareness concerning the disease, symptoms, its routes of transmission, prevention, and treatment of H1N1 had increased in the second phase of the study. At the same time, people were less afraid of the disease in the second phase. The most important sources of information used were TV, newspapers, and radio, respectively.

Conclusions: Mass media including TV and newspapers were recognized as the most important sources of information used by the people in emergencies. It seems that designing educational programs and synchronizing the media’s policies with health authorities can help fight future health emergencies and prevent delays in notifying people.

Keywords: Epidemics, emergency, health promotion, mass media, swine flu

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