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Planet Earth

Swine Flu Got You Worried? Unruffled? Be A Part of Scientific History!

The LoomBy Carl ZimmerApril 30, 2009 2:25 AM


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Marcel Salathe, a biologist I know at Stanford, is running a very cool study on swine flu psychology that you can be a part of. Here's the dope from Marcel:

 As you have heard in the news, there has been an outbreak of swine flu in Mexico and the United States. There is a possibility that this situation might develop into a pandemic if the virus continues to spread around the globe. The news media report excessively about this threat, and while health officials urge people to stay calm, there is an increased level of anxiety in the population. Models have predicted that when a disease breaks out, changes in behavior in response to an outbreak, and in particular in response to information about an outbreak, can alter the progression of an epidemic. While this makes intuitive sense, there is no good data to test such a hypothesis. One of the major problems is that emotional reactions and behavioral response to an epidemic is generally assessed quite some time after the epidemic has fizzled out.

We would like to address this problem by starting a survey about risk assessment and personal responses to a potential epidemic as it unfolds - that is, right now.

Please help us achieve this goal by filling out a simple questionnaire (link below) - it shouldn't take more than five minutes.

This is the link: I've just taken the survey, and I can vouch it's quick and painless. When Marcel has results to share, I'll make sure we get his analysis. So please help him out--take the test and spread the word.

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