Knowledge, attitudes, and practices of nonpharmaceutical interventions following school dismissals during the 2009 Influenza A H1N1 pandemic in Michigan, United States.PLoS One. 2014; 9(4):e94290.Plos
Many schools throughout the United States reported an increase in dismissals due to the 2009 influenza A H1N1 pandemic (pH1N1). During the fall months of 2009, more than 567 school dismissals were reported from the state of Michigan. In December 2009, the Michigan Department of Community Health, in collaboration with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, conducted a survey to describe the knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAPs) of households with school-aged children and classroom teachers regarding the recommended use of nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to slow the spread of influenza.
A random sample of eight elementary schools (kindergarten through 5th grade) was selected from each of the eight public health preparedness regions in the state. Within each selected school, a single classroom was randomly identified from each grade (K-5), and household caregivers of the classroom students and their respective teachers were asked to participate in the survey.
In total, 26% (2,188/8,280) of household caregivers and 45% (163/360) of teachers from 48 schools (of the 64 sampled) responded to the survey. Of the 48 participating schools, 27% (13) experienced a school dismissal during the 2009 fall term. Eighty-seven percent (1,806/2,082) of caregivers and 80% (122/152) of teachers thought that the 2009 influenza A H1N1 pandemic was severe, and >90% of both groups indicated that they told their children/students to use NPIs, such as washing hands more often and covering coughs with tissues, to prevent infection with influenza.
Knowledge and instruction on the use of NPIs appeared to be high among household caregivers and teachers responding to the survey. Nevertheless, public health officials should continue to explain the public health rationale for NPIs to reduce pandemic influenza. Ensuring this information is communicated to household caregivers and teachers through trusted sources is essential.