Public response to an anthrax attack: a multiethnic perspective.

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Public response to an anthrax attack: a multiethnic perspective.

Biosecur Bioterror. 2012 Dec;10(4):401-11

Authors: Steelfisher GK, Blendon RJ, Brulé AS, Ben-Porath EN, Ross LJ, Atkins BM

The 2001 anthrax attacks emphasized the need to develop outreach that would more effectively support racial/ethnic minority populations during a bioterrorism incident. Given the importance of antibiotic prophylaxis in a future anthrax attack, it should be a priority to better support racial/ethnic minorities in mass dispensing programs. To examine the needs and perspectives of racial/ethnic minorities, this study used a nationally representative poll of 1,852 adults, including 1,240 whites, 261 African Americans, and 282 Hispanics. The poll examined public reactions to a ''worst-case scenario'' in which cases of inhalation anthrax are discovered without an identified source and the entire population of a city or town is asked to receive antibiotic prophylaxis within 48 hours. Findings suggest willingness across all racial/ethnic groups to comply with recommendations to seek prophylaxis at dispensing sites. However, findings also indicate possible barriers for racial/ethnic minorities, including greater concern about pill safety and multiple attacks as well as lesser knowledge about inhalation anthrax. Across all racial/ethnic groups, roughly half would prefer to receive antibiotics at mass dispensing sites rather than through the US Postal Service. People in racial/ethnic minority groups were more likely to say this preference stems from a desire to speak with staff or to exchange medication formulation or type. Findings suggest the need for tailored outreach to racial/ethnic minorities through, for example, emphasis on key messages and enhanced understandability in communications, increased staff for answering questions in relevant dispensing sites, and long-term trust building with racial/ethnic minority communities.

PMID: 23244501 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]