Family physicians' experiences, behaviour, and use of personal protection equipment during the SARS outbreak in Singapore: do they fit the Becker Health Belief Model?

Asia Pac J Public Health. 2006;18(3):49-56. doi: 10.1177/10105395060180030901.


Singapore experienced the SARS outbreak in 2003. The study aimed to describe the experience and behaviour of family physicians and the use of personal protection equipment (PPE) in their encounters with SARS patients. 8 such participants were interviewed and the content was analysed using qualitative research method. They highlighted the difficulties in procuring PPE due to severe shortage, the discomfort and inconvenience associated with its use. Despite the increasing operating cost, declining patient attendance and high price of the PPE, they persist in using PPE and change their behaviour in order to reduce the perceived threat to their lives. It fits into the Becker Health Belief Model, which explains that behaviour change depends on the balance of perceived vulnerability, severity, effectiveness, and barriers. The vulnerability and severity of SARS to healthcare workers were verified by the hospital experience. Perceived effectiveness of PPE amongst the family physicians outweighed the barriers of shortage, cost and discomfort of the PPE.

MeSH terms

  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Patient-to-Professional / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Physicians, Family / psychology*
  • Protective Devices / statistics & numerical data*
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / transmission
  • Singapore / epidemiology
  • Socioeconomic Factors