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

By Carl Zimmer | April 29, 2009 5:25 pm

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:
https://opinio.stanford.edu:443/opinio/s?s=1403

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.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Brains, The Parasite Files

Comments (10)

Links to this Post

  1. On Swine Flu | May 5, 2009
  1. Thanks for the tip. I took the survey too. I also wrote to IRiSS to point out that radio was not one of the choices for media sources in the survey. I first heard about the current outbreak on NPR and I’ve heard some good followup reporting there. I suspect I’m far from unique in that regard.

  2. kibobo

    Has anyone been tracking the spread of swine flu on this website http://www.swine-flu-tracker.com/? It seems every time I check it the swine flu spreads.

  3. rachel

    I also wrote IRiSS and mentioned radio missing from the news source question (NPR is my primary news source).

    The google earth blog lists some other flu maps (which I think are interesting as mapping projects, not necessarily cause for flu-related alarm).

    http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2009/04/mapping-swine-flu-outbreak.html

  4. synergy

    I wanted to pass this on to some people on Facebook, but I’d like to include a link to wherever the quote from Marcel Salathe came from. Would you add that to the entry please? Or was it from an email? Thanks!

  5. Eh. I wasn’t too happy with some of the questions in that a small amount of follow-up would have been interesting. In particular, the question about where people are getting their news about the flu is more interesting if it were compared to where they get their news about other subjects.

  6. Phil Ioannou

    What is the incubation period for this virus ? is it known yet ? It seems to me that informing the public about how long they were contagious before symptoms appeared is an important piece of information to consider in evaluating who else in their circle they may have exposed. Why have none of the experts ( that i have heard so far) spoken about the incubation period given that this is an important factor governing the way a virus spreads through a community. It was very alarming to me to hear the White House spokesman say ( Briefing Apr-30, 1:59pm ) that “… since no symptoms have appeared … there is no reason for testing …” in reference to President Obama’s near exposure on his recent visit to mexico. / THANKS

  7. Phil Ioannou

    Update: Sorry to be a bit off topic Carl (in ref Survey), but you have the clout to get answers to this important oversight in coverage regarding the incubation period of this particular H1N1 virus. Look at what has now happened ( as of 4pm Apr-30 in the news …): VP-Biden is being ridiculed ( as is fashionable) for once again putting his foot in his mouth when he (CORRECTLY) suggests that he would tell his family to avoid unnecessary public transportation ( in other words, practice Social avoidance ). His advice has now been rewordered by spokepeople, pundits and news anchors to now suggest that people only need to be cautious WHEN or IF sick. This is exactly the wrong and dangerous message to reinforce and this error is occuring because there is no discussion or recognition of the fact that one is a carrier and is infectious during the incubation period -whatever it may be. So Social Avoidance is precisely what anyone living in an affected city ( if not everyone) SHOULD be practicing. I find this to be a very interesting example of the interplay between Politics, Media and the course of Events.

  8. My wife is a pediatrician and one of her partners was just diagnosed with swine flu. Luckily my wife works different days from her partner or we would all be on Tamiflu right now.

  9. but how do you if you got and how can you gett i maen like there is not a diff.. with the swine flu and the normle flu and how do you that the swine flu shot even works like i am so confussed and one of my bffl had to wait 3 hours and then she got tred a way so if anyone knows any thing telll me or post and i will come back on to this page and plaese help me

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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.

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