Lessons learned from H1N1 epidemic: The role of mass media in informing physicians

S.Hamed Hosseini, Jaleh Gholami, Mahnaz Ashoorkhani, Reza Majdzadeh


Objective- Preparedness and response at the time of pandemic range from writing programs to conducting procedures as well as informing the target population. The present study was conducted to evaluate the awareness of general practitioners in Tehran, at the time of H1N1 pandemic. It also aimed to identify the main sources used for gathering information at each alert level.

Methods- Two telephone surveys were conducted with a 4 month interval in between, at the beginning of H1N1 pandemic alert level 5 and 6, on 90 and 100 general practitioners, respectively. The knowledge of these physicians on the symptoms of H1N1 flu, the transmission methods, the preventative measures, existing treatments along with the sources used for gathering information were assessed.

Results- While mass media was the main source of gathering information in at the H1N1 pandemic alert level 5, more professional sources were used at the H1N1 pandemic alert level 6. Despite the acceptable improvement noted in the knowledge of the physicians during the two phases of the study, their understanding of the disease was believed to be less than the expected level based on H1N1 pandemic alert level.

Conclusion- The routine use of mass media as one of the main sources of information gathering at the two stages of the study points out the importance of it in providing physicians with the required information at the time of H1N1 pandemic. Using adequate, up-to-date, but non-specialized media can fill the gap in information gathering, required for fighting pandemic.

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