Patient and family physician preferences for care and communication in the eventuality of anthrax terrorism

Ernesto Kahan, Yacov Fogelman, Eliezer Kitai, Shlomo Vinker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background. The threat of bioterrorism consequent to the September 11, 2001 attack in the USA generated suggestions for improved medical response mainly through hospital preparedness. Objectives. The aim of the present study was to investigate the impact of this period of tension on patients' first choice for care and for receiving relevant information, and on primary care doctors' feelings of responsibility in the eventuality of an anthrax attack. Methods. During October 11-31, 2001, 500 patients from 30 clinics throughout Israel were asked to complete a questionnaire on their awareness of the anthrax threat, measures taken to prepare for it, and preferred sources of care and information. Their 30 physicians, and an additional 20, completed a questionnaire on knowledge about anthrax and anthrax-related patient behaviours and clinic visits. Results. The outstanding finding was the low rate (30%) of patients who chose the hospital emergency department as their first choice for care or information if they were worried about an anthrax attack or the media communicated that an attack was in progress. The other two-thirds preferred their family doctor or the health authorities. Most of the physicians (89%) felt it was their responsibility to treat anthrax-infected patients and that they should therefore be supplied with appropriate guidelines. Conclusion. This study suggests that in Israel, a country with a high degree of awareness of civil defence aspects, both patients and primary care doctors believe that family physicians should have a major role in the case of bioterrorist attacks. This must be seriously considered during formulation of relevant health services programmes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-442
Number of pages2
JournalFamily Practice
Volume20
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2003

Keywords

  • Anthrax
  • Bioterrorism
  • Family practice
  • Preparedness
  • Primary care

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