Risk communication and college students: The 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza
Objective The purpose of this study was to assess university students’ self-reported knowledge, behavior, and behavioral intention regarding H1N1 influenza. Method A cross-sectional, causal comparative study with purposive sampling was conducted at a major university in the southwestern U.S. Data were collected in early spring 2010 using a 24-item survey. Analyses included frequencies, descriptive statistics, correlation, linear regression, and multivariate analysis of variance. Results A total of 483 students participated. The majority of participants (69%) indicated taking “specific precautions” to prevent H1N1 influenza, but one-third lacked knowledge about symptoms and treatment. Only 10% had been vaccinated, and approximately half had no intention to get vaccinated or follow recommendations for self-isolation. A significant but small association was found between gender and age and the three outcome variables of interest. Intention was a better significant contributor of behavior [t (1) = 3.34, p < .001] while knowledge was not. Conclusion Results indicate that campaigns should provide facts on H1N1 symptoms and differences between regular and H1N1 influenza, and emphasize the importance of vaccination and self-isolation, rather than hygiene. An increase in dissemination efforts towards younger, male students may be beneficial.