Our objective was to examine the level of stated compliance with public health pandemic influenza control measures and explore factors influencing cooperation for pandemic influenza control in Australia. A computer-assisted telephone interview survey was conducted by professional interviewers to collect information on the Australian public’s knowledge of pandemic influenza and willingness to comply with public health control measures. The sample was randomly selected using an electronic database and printed telephone directories to ensure sample representativeness from all Australian states and territories. After we described pandemic influenza to the respondents to ensure they understood the significance of the issue, the questions on compliance were repeated and changes in responses were analysed with McNemar’s test for paired data. Only 23% of the 1166 respondents demonstrated a clear understanding of the term “pandemic influenza”. Of those interviewed, 94.1% reported being willing to comply with home quarantine; 94.2%, to avoid public events; and 90.7%, to postpone social gatherings. After we explained the meaning of “pandemic” to interviewees, stated compliance increased significantly (to 97.5%, 98.3% and 97.2% respectively). Those who reported being unfamiliar with the term “pandemic influenza,” male respondents and employed people not able to work from home were less willing to comply. In Australia, should the threat arise, compliance with containment measures against pandemic influenza is likely to be high, yet it could be further enhanced through a public education programme conveying just a few key messages. A basic understanding of pandemic influenza is associated with stated willingness to comply with containment measures. Investing now in promoting measures to prepare for a pandemic or other health emergency will have considerable value.
Bulletin of the World Health Organization Vol. 87, Issue 8, p. 588-594