H1N1 flu virus not an extremely serious condition, most doctors say



    
    Canadian doctors and the general public have differing views on the
    severity of H1N1
    

    TORONTO, May 29 /CNW/ - Relatively few Canadian general practitioners
(13%) consider the H1N1 swine flu virus to be an extremely serious condition.
Indeed, most doctors believe H1N1 is a significantly lesser threat to the
general public than SARS, and that H1N1 is more closely aligned to avian/bird
flu in terms of its severity.
    By contrast, many Canadians equate H1N1 with SARS. According to a study
conducted by TNS Healthcare Canada, similar proportions of the general public
consider H1N1 and SARS extremely serious conditions (34% vs. 40%).
    "Most GPs consider this perspective to be inaccurate and they discern an
overreaction to the presence of H1N1 in Canada," said Paul Pacheco, vice
president at TNS Healthcare Canada.
    TNS conducted online surveys with 213 general practitioners and 1,021
adults across Canada and found that, in both groups, there is a pervasive
feeling that the media paid excessive attention to H1N1. The majority (66%) of
GPs believe that the H1N1 situation was overblown by the media, and almost
one-half (48%) of Canadians agree with this sentiment.
    At the same time, many GPs (55%) feel that the public was conditioned to
overreact to H1N1.
    "Parallels with the SARS crisis in terms of disease progression, media
coverage, public health advisories and political responses likely helped fuel
public anxiety in some quarters," said Pacheco.
    This view also sees expression in the conflicting opinions of the general
public and doctors when it comes to dealing with flu-like symptoms. Fully 38
per cent of Canadians would be more inclined to visit their doctor if they
experienced even mild symptoms of the flu, whereas the large majority of GPs
(83%) do not feel this would be necessary. Evidently, GPs believe that the
risk of contracting H1N1 is very low, and a sizeable proportion (45%) think
that over-heated patient concerns with the condition may place an unnecessary
burden on the health-care system.
    The government and public authorities receive only spotty approval for
their response to H1N1. For instance, within the general public, 35 per cent
express criticism of the government for having been too slow to issue an
advisory about travel to Mexico. Understandably, there is concern about
preventing spread and keeping the disease contained, with most survey
participants suggesting there should be more thorough screening practices at
airports and border crossings (expressed by 51% of GPs and 58% of the general
population).
    "There is also little conviction among either doctors or Canadians
generally that public organizations would respond effectively if the H1N1
problem escalated," said Pacheco.
    Just under half (48%) of the Canadian public is confident that the
government would provide all the needed antiviral vaccines in a timely and
efficient manner if the H1N1 outbreak were to become pandemic. GPs are even
more skeptical, with only 36 per cent expressing confidence in the
government's ability to provide the necessary vaccines in a timely fashion to
all who need them.
    For the study, a national sample of Canadian adults was randomly selected
from TNS Canadian Facts' Internet research panel and invited to complete an
online survey. In total, 1,021 consumers completed the questionnaire between
April 30 and May 5, 2009. The survey data were then weighted to reflect the
demographic composition of the Canadian population aged 18 years and older.
    The online survey of 213 general practitioners was conducted between May
1 and May 11, 2009. GPs were randomly selected from TNS Healthcare Canada's
Physician Panel. The survey data were weighted to reflect the regional
distribution of GPs in Canada.
    TNS Healthcare Canada is a division of TNS Canadian Facts, one of
Canada's largest market, opinion and social research organizations.

    About TNS

    TNS, who recently merged with Research International, is the world's
largest custom research agency delivering actionable insights and
research-based business advice to its clients so they can make more effective
business decisions. TNS offers comprehensive industry knowledge within the
Consumer, Technology, Finance, Automotive and Political & Social sectors,
supported by a unique product offering that stretches across the entire range
of marketing and business issues, specializing in product development &
innovation, brand & communication, stakeholder management, retail & shopper,
and qualitative research. Delivering best-in-class service across more than 70
countries, TNS is part of Kantar, the world's largest research, insight and
consultancy network. Please visit www.tnsglobal.com for more information.





For further information:

For further information: Media Contacts: Paul Pacheco, Vice President,
Tel: (416) 924-5751, e-mail: paul.pacheco@tns-global.com; David Stark, Vice
President, Public Affairs, Tel: (416) 924-5751 x238, e-mail:
david.stark@tns-global.com

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