The influence of social-cognitive factors on personal hygiene practices to protect against influenzas: using modelling to compare avian A/H5N1 and 2009 pandemic A/H1N1 influenzas in Hong Kong

Int J Behav Med. 2011 Jun;18(2):93-104. doi: 10.1007/s12529-010-9123-8.


Background: Understanding population responses to influenza helps optimize public health interventions. Relevant theoretical frameworks remain nascent.

Purpose: To model associations between trust in information, perceived hygiene effectiveness, knowledge about the causes of influenza, perceived susceptibility and worry, and personal hygiene practices (PHPs) associated with influenza.

Methods: Cross-sectional household telephone surveys on avian influenza A/H5N1 (2006) and pandemic influenza A/H1N1 (2009) gathered comparable data on trust in formal and informal sources of influenza information, influenza-related knowledge, perceived hygiene effectiveness, worry, perceived susceptibility, and PHPs. Exploratory factor analysis confirmed domain content while confirmatory factor analysis was used to evaluate the extracted factors. The hypothesized model, compiled from different theoretical frameworks, was optimized with structural equation modelling using the A/H5N1 data. The optimized model was then tested against the A/H1N1 dataset.

Results: The model was robust across datasets though corresponding path weights differed. Trust in formal information was positively associated with perceived hygiene effectiveness which was positively associated with PHPs in both datasets. Trust in formal information was positively associated with influenza worry in A/H5N1 data, and with knowledge of influenza cause in A/H1N1 data, both variables being positively associated with PHPs. Trust in informal information was positively associated with influenza worry in both datasets. Independent of information trust, perceived influenza susceptibility associated with influenza worry. Worry associated with PHPs in A/H5N1 data only.

Conclusions: Knowledge of influenza cause and perceived PHP effectiveness were associated with PHPs. Improving trust in formal information should increase PHPs. Worry was significantly associated with PHPs in A/H5N1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hygiene*
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype
  • Influenza A Virus, H5N1 Subtype
  • Influenza, Human / epidemiology*
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control*
  • Influenza, Human / psychology
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Pandemics
  • Public Health