180392 Public health information sources used during an illness outbreak, Rhode Island, 2007

Monday, October 27, 2008

Heather Hastings, MPH , Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, Seattle Quarantine Station, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Seattle, WA
Krista Kornylo, MPH , Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Sara E. Luckhaupt, MD, MPH , Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, OH
David Hunter, MPH, MSW , Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Paul Edelson, MD , Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, New York Quarantine Station, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Jamaica, NY
Amanda M. McWhorter, MPH , CDC Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, SRA International Inc. Contractor, Atlanta, GA
Background/methods. In January 2007 a community outbreak of Mycoplasma pneumoniae occurred in Rhode Island. Schools in three affected school districts were closed for 2 - 4 days. To assess public health messaging during school closure, we included questions on the content, sources, and perceived credibility of information regarding the outbreak in a telephone survey we conducted of adults in a random sample of student households.

Findings. 258 surveys were analyzed. A majority (63%) of respondents recalled receiving advice to “Wash hands / Cover coughs,” a key Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) message during the outbreak. Based on a 1-5 Likert scale, messages considered by respondents as “useful” or “very useful” were most often from television (66%), newspapers (44%), the internet (37%), family physicians (32%), family and friends (29%) and radio (11%). In an open ended question where more than one source could be cited, sources considered by respondents as “most trusted” were RIDOH/schools (35%), followed by physicians (19%) and television (16%).

Conclusions. Based upon media available and utilized by these respondents, public health department and school messages were considered the most useful and trusted sources of information during this outbreak. Our findings support the inclusion of private practitioners in public health messaging strategies. Studies such as this one may help future public health messages to be directed to particularly useful and trusted sources.

Learning Objectives:
1.Participants will be able to identify the predominant modes of communication used to receive public health messages during this outbreak. 2.Participants will learn whom the public considers trusted sources for public health information in an outbreak. 3.Participants will discuss the implications of multiple media modes for public health information during an illness outbreak.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I participated in the outbreak investigation of which is the subject of the presentation through co-development of the data collection methodology (process, instruments, interviewer training, data management). I am trained and experienced in survey development and administration, and creation and evaluation of health communication materials.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.