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What does the public know about Ebola? The public's risk perceptions regarding the current Ebola outbreak in an as-yet unaffected country

Published:April 24, 2015DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajic.2015.03.005

      Highlights

      • The public has knowledge about Ebola and is updated on the topic, including scientific issues that are on the agenda, such as the question of Ebola transmission.
      • No statistically significant difference was found between health care workers versus nonhealth care workers in the knowledge and worry score.
      • The public expects information about Ebola from health authorities, including topics of uncertainty.
      • More than half of the participants thought the information provided by health authorities on Ebola and Ebola prevention was insufficient, and almost half were unsure if the information was sufficient.

      Background

      The unexpected developments surrounding the Ebola virus in the United States provide yet another warning that we need to establish communication preparedness. This study examines what the Israeli public knew about Ebola after the initial stages of the outbreak in a country to which Ebola has not spread and assesses the association between knowledge versus worries and concerns about contracting Ebola.

      Methods

      Online survey using Google Docs (Google, Mountain View, CA) of Israeli health care professionals and the general public (N = 327).

      Results

      The Israeli public has knowledge about Ebola (mean ± SD, 4.18 ± 0.83), despite the fact that the disease has not spread to Israel. No statistically significant difference was found between health care workers versus nonhealth care workers in the knowledge score. Additionally, no statistically significant association was found between knowledge and worry levels. The survey indicated that Israelis expect information about Ebola from the health ministry, including topics of uncertainty. More than half of the participants thought the information provided by the health ministry on Ebola and Ebola prevention was insufficient (50.5% and 56.4%, respectively), and almost half (45.2% and 41.1%, respectively) were unsure if the information was sufficient.

      Conclusion

      The greatest challenges that the organizations face is not only to convey knowledge, but also to find ways to convey comprehensive information that reflects uncertainty and empowers the public to make fact-based decisions about health.

      Key Words

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