Public knowledge of swine flu poor

The level of public knowledge regarding swine flu - especially among men - is poor, recent research has shown. Dr Lynn Williams at the University of the West of Scotland, as well as Anna Regagliolo and Dr Susan Rasmussen at the University of Strathclyde, found that the general public know little about the causes and prevention of the illness.

Participants in the study - which was presented by the trio at the British Psychological Society's Annual Conference in Glasgow earlier this month - were asked a series of questions about swine flu, including typical symptoms and ways to stop it from spreading.

The findings are of increased relevance following newly-released Health Protection Agency figures, which showed 602 lives were lost in Britain as a result of last winter's flu outbreak.

Dr Williams said that her team's findings show that "future health campaigns which aim to alter the public's illness perceptions in times of infectious disease may be useful in altering psychological responses, and potentially modifying behaviour".