Knowledge about pandemic flu among Italian Health Care Workers (HCWs): an Italian survey


Introduction. In case of pandemics, healthcare workers (HCWs) are the main actors and, at the same time, one of the main targets of preventive measures. This is what occurred in 2009 during the A/H1N1 pandemic flu. The aim of our survey was to get information about HCWs? knowledge of the A/H1N1 pandemic flu prevention. Materials and methods. A survey of 32 questions, 11 of which about knowledge towards A/H1N1 pandemic flu, created on the basis of a similar one by the Harvard School of Public Health, was made available on the Italian Journal of Public Health website during the month of October 2009. The survey was advertised with links from various professional websites and by emailing to HCWs? addresses taken from the Italian Society of Hygiene and Public Health (SItI) databases. Descriptive and univariate analyses were conducted in order to assess whether differences exist on the level of knowledge of HCWs (specifically Nurses and Physicians) about preventive measures against the A/H1N1 pandemic flu. Results. 1,960 HCWs answered to the questionnaire, 1,711 (87.3%) Nurses and 249 (12.7%) Physicians. Both Nurses and Physicians seemed to have a high or moderately high interest for A/H1N1 pandemic flu (86.1% vs. 91.2% respectively, p = 0.03). Nurses indicated national newscasts (38.6%) and communications within hospitals or other workplaces (33.8%) as the source of most information about A/H1N1 pandemic flu. On the other hand Physicians got information mostly from Internet (41.8%), but also from communications within their hospital or other workplace (34.5%) (p inf. 0.001). Not all the Nurses and Physicians knew that contagion is possible by close contact (less than 1 metre) with someone affected (74.0% and 88.0% respectively, p inf. 0.001), while 82.3% of Nurses and 71.1% of Physicians reported that face masks protected from getting infected (p inf. 0.001). Conclusion. Information and awareness campaigns on the influenza pandemic should be conducted firstly among HCWs, because of their importance ? especially in case of pandemics ? as a valuable resource at risk, as a contagion vehicle and as a source of information for the general population.