Holistic Approach towards Understanding the Dynamics of Infectious Diseases: A Case of H1n1 Influenza (Swine Flu)

The World Health Organization estimates that approximately one billion people are infected and up to 500 000 people die from influenza each year. Providing an effective response to emerging infectious diseases remains a pressing global health challenge; the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic is a salient example. Also the data on risk perception and behavioral response to a novel virus is usually collected with a substantial delay or after an epidemic has run its course. This qualitative research was an attempt to explore the voices of patients, family and health professionals about their unheard experiences, perceptions and resort to treatment and cure. The results suggest there are varied factors (beliefs, environmental, cultural, media) that govern the health-seeking behavior of individuals. Of particular interest, we find that affective variables, such as self-reported anxiety over the epidemic, mediate the likelihood that respondents will engage in protective behavior that can go a long way in designing of epidemic control strategies.