Survey Finds Women Taking the Risk of Flu More Seriously Than Men


A new American Red Cross poll shows that while concerns about exposure to the H1N1 influenza virus remain high, women are more likely than men to make extra efforts to cover coughs and sneezes with tissue, wash their hands more carefully and use hand sanitizer more often.

Since it was first identified in April, the H1N1 virus has been spreading across the country and the world. The new Red Cross survey of 1,005 adults in the U.S., which was completed Oct. 11, found that 22 percent said they know someone who has had the H1N1 virus.

The survey found significant differences in how men and women have reacted to the threat of the H1N1 flu:

Made an extra effort to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue

Women: 83 percent 

Men: 67 percent

Made an extra effort to clean surfaces at home or at work with disinfectant                                           

Women: 72 percent 

Men: 53 percent

Started to use hand sanitizer more often                   

Women: 66 percent

Men:  50 percent

Made an extra effort to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth                                                       

Women: 64 percent 

Men: 47 percent

"The flu doesn't favor one gender over another, so it's important for everyone to take steps to reduce the spread of H1N1," said Sharon Stanley, chief nurse of the American Red Cross.

The survey also found that vaccination is on the minds of women. The survey found that more women (35 percent) have gotten their seasonal flu shots this year than men (26 percent). At the same time, women are more concerned than men about the safety of the H1N1 vaccine, with 60 percent of women expressing concern to 44 percent of men.

"Vaccines are the most powerful public health tool for controlling both the seasonal flu and the H1N1 virus," Stanley said. "In addition to getting vaccinated against the flu, men, women and children can help reduce their exposure by practicing good hand-washing hygiene, using hand sanitizer and covering their cough."

The survey also looked at how Americans are responding to H1N1 in the work place and found that in the past two months, in one in five households, someone has gone to work or school when they were sick.

"People who have the flu should stay home from work or school to help prevent passing the illness on to someone else," said Stanley. "Each of us has the responsibility to be a good neighbor. To help keep others from becoming sick, do your part by washing your hands, sneezing into your arm, using hand sanitizer and staying home when ill."

While 70 percent of Americans are confident that they could take time off from work to care for someone with the flu, only 20 percent have actually talked to their supervisor about what happens if they need to take time off from work.

Additional survey findings:

• 78 percent started washing their hands more carefully and more often.

• 63 percent are making an extra effort to clean surfaces at home or work with disinfectant.

• 73 percent know what symptoms to look for that would tell them if their loved one needed to go to a hospital.

The telephone survey of 1,005 U.S. adults 18 years and older was conducted October 8-11, 2009 by CARAVAN(R) Opinion Research Corporation. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent. CARAVAN Opinion Research Corporation conducted three telephone surveys of U.S. adults on behalf of the American Red Cross, with the most recent in October 2009 (May 1-4, 2009, 1,004 Respondents; July 17-20, 2009, 1,002 Respondents; and October 8-11, 2009, 1,005 Respondents). Margin of error for each is +/- 3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.


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