, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 139-145

Preventive behaviors, beliefs, and anxieties in relation to the swine flu outbreak among college students aged 18–24 years

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Abstract

Aim

The objective of this study was to assess beliefs, misconception, and anxiety in relation to swine flu outbreak and whether perception of the outbreak predicted changes in behavior.

Subject and methods

In November 2009, we conducted an Internet-based cross-sectional survey of college students aged 18–24 years in a Midwestern State in the USA. We collected information on swine flu knowledge, perception on immunization safety, perceived efficacy of recommended behavior, changed behavior, and anxiety.

Results

Of the 236 respondents, 83.1% had some anxiety about swine flu, 64.8% believed avoiding crowded places was preventive, 33.5% believed the 2009 swine flu vaccine was safe, and 36.9% showed interest in receiving the vaccine. Misconceptions about swine flu contagion via eating cooked pork, water sources, and insect bites were common. Respondents were unaware of transmissions via contaminated objects and droplets. Only 42.6% were satisfied with governmental efforts. Women were more likely to wash hands frequently than men (odds ratio 2.80, p < 0.001).

Conclusion

There is a gap in swine flu knowledge, minimal risk reduction, increased amount of anxiety, and skepticism about swine flu vaccine safety. These gaps warrant serious attention to inform the public about specific actions regarding swine flu.