Health care workers - Part of the system or part of the public? Ambivalent risk perception in health care workers

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Background The emergence of the avian influenza A (H7N9) in China during 2013 illustrates the importance of health care professionals as a mediating channel between health agencies and the public. Our study examined health care professionals' risk perceptions considering their unique position as representing the health care system and yet also being part of the public, hence a risk group. Recent studies have examined the role of health professionals' personal risk perceptions and attitudes regarding compliance of the general public with vaccination. Our study examined how risk perception affects their risk analysis. Methods We employed an online survey of Israeli health care professionals and the general public in Israel (N = 240). Results When risk perception is relatively low, health care professionals tend to base their attitudes toward vaccines on analytical knowledge (Rc = 0.315; P <.05), whereas in situations with high risk perception, the results did not indicate any significant difference between Israeli health professionals and the Israeli general public, hence both groups base their attitudes more on emotions and personal experience than on analytical knowledge. Conclusions Public health organizations must consider the fact that health professionals are a group that cannot be automatically treated as an extension of the organization. When the risk is tangible and relevant, health care workers behave and act like everybody else. Our study contributes to understanding health care professionals' perceptions about vaccines and the thinking processes underlying such perceptions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)829-833
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Infection Control
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2014


  • Analytical knowledge
  • Compliance
  • Emotions and personal experience
  • H7N9
  • Vaccination

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Health Policy
  • Epidemiology


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