Introduction: During an avian influenza (AI) pandemic, primary-care physicians (PCPs) are expected to play key roles in the prevention and control of the disease. Different groups of PCPs could have different concerns and preparedness level. We assessed the concerns, perceived impact and preparedness for an outbreak among PCPs in Singapore.Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional survey of PCPs working in private practice (n = 200) and public clinics (n = 205) from March to June 2006 with an anonymous self-administered questionnaire on concerns (12- items), perceived impact (10 items) and preparedness (10 items) for an outbreak. Results: Two hundred and eighty-five PCPs responded – 149 (response rate: 72.7%) public and 136 (response rate: 67.3%) private. The majority were concerned about risk to their health from their occupation (95.0%) and falling ill with AI (89.7%). Most (82.5%) accepted the risk and only 33 (11.8%) would consider stopping work. For perceived impact, most felt that people would avoid them (69.6%) and their families (54.1%). The majority (81.3%) expected an increased workload and feeling more stressed at work (86.9%). For preparedness, 78.7% felt personally prepared for an outbreak. Public PCPs were more likely to be involved in infection-control activities and felt that their workplaces were prepared. Conclusions: Most PCPs felt personally prepared for an outbreak but were concerned about their exposure to AI and falling ill. Other concerns included social ostracism for themselves and their families. Public PCPs appeared to have a higher level of preparation. Addressing concerns and improving level of preparedness are crucial to strengthen the primary-care response for any AI outbreak.
Outbreaks of avian influenza (AI) caused by the H5N1 subtype in several Asian countries have raised concern all over the world. AI is endemic in several parts of Asia. To date, there have been more than 200 human cases of AI virus infection, mainly as a result of poultry-to-human transmission, with a mortality rate of over 50%.
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