Decision Making During a Simulated Public Heatlh Crisis
Daffin Jr., Lee William
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the behavior of participants during a simulated public health crisis, and specifically an influenza pandemic. Participants moved through three types of pandemics (mild, moderate, severe) in a randomized order depending upon the condition they were in. They were given information about the status of the pandemic around the world and in the U.S. They also saw maps of the spread of the virus in the U.S. and Washington state. After reviewing this information the participant was asked at which update (1-9) they would obtain their vaccine and why. Individuals could opt not to obtain one. Other variables of interest that were investigated included SVO, religious orientation, values, and questions were asked about the importance of particular types of information they were provided. Finally, the participant's location moved from a town in the northern part of the state to a large city. The same questions about when, or if, the participant would obtain a vaccine were asked.First, the results showed a differential pattern of behavior during mild, moderate, and severe pandemics such that participants decided to obtain their vaccine earlier in a severe pandemic and later in mild, with moderate in between. This effect did not appear to be due to making socially desirable choices or having been sick oneself or knowing others who were sick recently. Second, those who regularly get their seasonal flu vaccine decided to obtain their pandemic influenza vaccine at least one update earlier than those who did not and in all three pandemics. Third, participants made different decisions in terms of when to obtain a vaccine based on the severity of the pandemic when located either in a small town or located in a big city, but decide to obtain a vaccine sooner when in the big city. Finally, participants rated the WA map as most important and the global update as least important in terms of the pieces of information they were provided. SVO, religiosity, and values did not explain vaccine consumption behavior of participants. Ramifications of these findings are discussed and future directions are suggested.