Cold/flu Knowledge, Attitudes and Health Care Practices: Results of a Two-City Telephone Survey

By Vingilis, Evelyn R; Brown, Unnur et al. | Canadian Journal of Public Health, May/June 1999 | Go to article overview

Cold/flu Knowledge, Attitudes and Health Care Practices: Results of a Two-City Telephone Survey


Vingilis, Evelyn R, Brown, Unnur, Sarkella, Jennifer, Stewart, Moira, Hennen, Brian K, Canadian Journal of Public Health


ABSTRACT

The purpose of this paper is to describe knowledge, attitudes and practices of cold and flu self-care and health care utilization, and to identify the predictors of health care utilization for the cold and flu among residents of London and Windsor. Using a random digit dialing survey method, 417 residents were interviewed between November-December, 1993 and February-March, 1994.

This survey revealed good knowledge about colds and flu and understanding of appropriate physician visits. Only seven percent reported a doctor visit for their last cold. Socio-demographic, health status, attitude and knowledge level variables were subjected to a logistic regression analysis to identify which variables predicted selfreported physician visits. Only attitudes and health status showed statistically significant log odds (3.6 and 1.5, respectively). In summary, consistent with other studies, attitude and health status, not knowledge, appear to be significant predictors of physician visits for colds/flu.

ABREGE

Le but de cet article est de decrire les connaissances, l'attitude et les pratiques en matiere de soins personnels du rhume et de la grippe et le recours aux services de sante, ainsi qu'indentifier les predicteurs du recours aux servies de sante pour les memes affections chez les residents de London et de Winsor. En recourant a une methode d'enquete par appel telephonique compose de facon aleatoire, on a interviewe 417 residents entre fevrier et mars 1994. Cette egalement entre novembre et decembre 1993, et enquete a revele un bon niveau de connaissances et une bonne comprehension des consultations chez le medecin qui sont justifees. Seulement sept pour cent des personnes ont declare avoir consulte un medecin lors de leur dernier rhume. On a fait une analyse de regression logistque sur les variables concernant le statut sociodemographique, l'etat de sante. l'attitude et le niveau de connaisances pour identifier celles d'entre elles permettant de predire des consultations du medecin auto-declarees. Sueles les variables correspondant a l'attitude et a l'etat de sante ont montre des disparites statistiquement significatives (3,6 et 1,5 respectivement). En resume, comme l'indiquent d'autres etudes, ce sont les variables relatives a l'attitude et a l'etat de sante et non pas celle en rapport avec les connaissances qui semblent etre des predicteurs significatifs des consultations du medecin en cas de rhume et (ou) de grippe.

Utilization of health care services for colds and flu is considered to be a common occurrence. The Ontario Ministry of Health (MOH) reported that 12.6% of all visits to physicians in the period January 1 to March 31, 1991 were coded (Ontario Health Insurance Plan [OHIP]) as the "common cold".1 This was of concern to the Ministry of Health and the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), as visits to physicians for the common cold and flu may be inappropriate and a misuse of health care resources.1 In 1994 they implemented a public education program on the management of common cold and flu which has been evaluated elsewhere.2-4

Despite the suggested abuse of the health care system for "inappropriate" visits for the common cold,1 little information is available on patterns of cold selfcare and health care utilization, and on what factors predict health care utilization for colds and flu. The literature on predictors of general health care utilization has shown mixed and often contradictory findings, depending on the research design and instruments used. Generally speaking, female gender,5-9 depression,10-14 positive attitude toward consultation,6 and perceived poor health status5,6,15 have all been associated with greater health care utilization, while marital status,5,16-18 education,5'9 employment status,5,16,19-21 knowledge about illness and self-care,20,22 and physical health11,18,23 have shown contradictory results. The literature on age suggests a U-shaped function between age and health care utilization with children and seniors using the health care system the most. …

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