Educating the Public about Improving the Public Health System to Deal with Bioterrorism

    • February 19, 2005

From 2002 to 2004, Burness Communications, a public relations firm based in Bethesda, Md., provided communications assistance to four public health and policy organizations to help them address the issue of the public health system's preparedness to deal with bioterrorism.

Burness also commissioned Lake Snell Perry and Associates, a national public opinion research firm, to conduct a national poll of the public's opinion on the nation's bioterrorism preparedness and released the poll results at a half-day national conference.

Key Results

  • Lake Snell Perry and Associates conducted a national survey on public perceptions of bioterrorism and whether the United States is prepared to deal with it.

  • Project staff released findings from the survey at a half-day national conference titled "The State of Public Health: Protecting the Nation in a Changing World" on December 11, 2002, in Washington. More than 100 people attended the conference, including policy-makers, members of the media and public health advocates.

  • Project staff provided communications support to four organizations:

    • The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.
    • The National Association of County and City Health Officials.
    • The Trust for America's Health, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making disease prevention a national priority.
    • The Century Foundation, a nonprofit group that examines public policy issues.

Key Findings

The following findings from the national survey were reported in Americans Speak Out on Bioterrorism and U.S. Preparedness to Address Risk:

  • More than a year after September 11th, Americans were still feeling uneasy. The American public was very concerned about the use of biological and chemical substances by terrorists.

  • Most Americans were willing to be vaccinated against smallpox.

  • Americans trust their physicians during a health crisis.

  • Americans were concerned that the emphasis on bioterrorism will reduce efforts on other public health issues, such as health education, environmental issues and immunizations.