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New Influenza A/H1N1 (“Swine Flu”): information needs of airport passengers and staff

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Background:  Airports are the entrances of infectious diseases. Particularly at the beginning of an outbreak, information and communication play an important role to enable the early detection of signs or symptoms and to encourage passengers to adopt appropriate preventive behaviour to limit the spread of the disease. Objectives:  To determine the adequacy of the information provided to airport passengers and staff in meeting their information needs in relation to their concerns. Methods:  At the start of the influenza A/H1N1 epidemic (29–30 April 2009), qualitative semi-structured interviews (N = 101) were conducted at Frankfurt International Airport with passengers who were either returning from or going to Mexico and with airport staff who had close contact with these passengers. Interviews focused on knowledge about swine flu, information needs and fear or concern about the outbreak. Results:  The results showed that a desire for more information was associated with higher concern – the least concerned participants did not want any additional information, while the most concerned participants reported a range of information needs. Airport staff in contact with passengers travelling from the epicentre of the outbreak showed the highest levels of fear or concern, coupled with a desire to be adequately briefed by their employer. Conclusions:  Our results suggest that information strategies should address not only the exposed or potentially exposed but also groups that feel at risk. Identifying what information these different passenger and staff groups wish to receive will be an important task in any future infectious disease outbreak.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/33828/

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