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Information-seeking behaviors and response to the H1N1 outbreak in Chinese limited-English proficient individuals living in King County, Washington

Mei Po Yip, PhD, Brandon Ong, MD, Ian Painter, PhD, Hendrika Meischke, PhD, Becca Calhoun, MPH, Shin Ping Tu, MD, MPH


Objectives: To investigate the information seeking behaviors and response to the H1N1 outbreak by limited- English proficient (LEP) Chinese speakers.
Methods: We conveniently sampled 100 adult Chinese LEP individuals between June 2 and June 11, 2009, during the time the World Health Organization (WHO) declared global pandemic alert level at phase 6 and the development of a H1N1 vaccine was still underway.
Results: Participants demonstrated a basic understanding of the disease and were unconcerned by the outbreak. Major channels for H1N1 information included watching TV (81 percent), reading Chinese newspaper (69 percent), and community-based organization (30 percent). Only 2 percent obtained information from a public health system or hotline.The odds of being informed of timely H1N1 information were significantly higher for participants who did not speak English at all than those who reported speaking English “not well” (OR = 2.65; CI:1.04, 7.01).
Conclusions: LEP Chinese speakers seem acknowledged for this outbreak. However, scarce use of the local public health system to obtain H1N1 information suggests more work needs to be done to reach out to the LEP community to enhance their capacity to respond to future outbreaks.


information seeking, limited English proficiency, emergency preparedness, H1N1

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