187187 Gender difference in response to new emerging diseases --- an example of the SARS outbreak

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Eugene Yu-Chang Peng, MD, MS , Department of Community Medicine, Taipei City Hospital, Renai Branch, Taipei, Taiwan
Chih-Chien Yang, MS, PhD , Graduate School of Educational Measurement & Statistics, National Taichung University, Taichung, Taiwan
Shu-Yu Lyu, MPH, PhD , School of Public Health, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan
Fuh-Yuan Shih, MD, PhD , Department of Emergency Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
Po-Tswen Yu, MS , Health Education Center, Bureau of Health Promotion, Department of Health, the Executive Yuan, Hsinchuang City, Taipei County, Taiwan
BACKGROUND: Taiwan's severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic was the third-worst. China was number one followed by Hong Kong. The World Health Organization (WHO) added Taiwan to the travel alert list on May 21, 2003. OBJECTIVES: To explore gender difference in response to the SARS outbreak across different epidemic time periods. METHODS: Three telephone surveys were conducted using nation-wide representative samples aged 18 and above. Data were collected using computer-assisted telephone interview system. The first survey (N1=1,081) and the second survey (N2=1,275) was conducted respectively in May and June, 2003. The third survey (N3=1,278) was conducted in November 2003, roughly four months after Taiwan was lifted from the SARS-affected area list by the WHO. The maximum deviation of sampling error at the 95% confidence level for all surveys were less than 3%. RESULTS: Comparing respondents' subjective responses on the questionnaire, significant decreasing trends were found among the three temporal surveys, including pessimistic anticipations of the disease was reduced from 52% to 24%. Follow up analyses showed that gender differences in these responses are also considerable. The percentages of extremely optimistic males are significantly greater than that of extremely optimistic females (7%:3%; 48%:34%; 45%:41%) for all the three occasions. Moreover, respondents' perception of the degree of severity regarding SARS and perception of SARS patients' survival rate indicated significant gender differences across different epidemic time periods. As regard to the impact of SARS epidemic on respondents' daily life, the significant gender difference was only found during the second survey. These comparisons were statistically evaluated by using contingency tables and corresponding Chi-square statistics and other advanced analytical methods. CONCLUSIONS: These results demonstrate considerable gender differences on optimistic perceptions of the disease outbreak during and after the crisis. We provide important inferences regarding the consequences of these perceptions through empirical illustrations and literature comparisons, particularly, from an east cultural perspective.

Learning Objectives:
1.Recognize the perceptions of the SARS outbreak across different epidemic time periods. 2.Discuss crisis communication strategies during and post crisis. 3.Explore gender differences in response to the SARS epidemic from an east cultural perspective. 4.Apply gender mainstreaming perspectives to future health crisis communication.

Keywords: Emerging Diseases, International Public Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was involved in questionnaire design and data analyses in all of the three surveys.
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.