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Doctors and public health agencies are always on the frontlines when a pandemic arises. Things are no different as the Zika virus spreads in South America and other parts of the world. A vaccine remains years away and scientists are struggling to establish the connections between the Zika virus and mircocephaly and Guillain-Barré Syndrome—two rare conditions that have spiked in regions with Zika outbreaks.
With so many unknowns, InCrowd has launched the first of a series of surveys to gauge the reactions of U.S. physicians and patients, and track them over time as the epidemic unfolds. This is part of our effort to use real time research to gather physician and patient insights in times of crisis, breaking news, and unexpected events.
We find that physicians are recommending women follow common-sense, though not extraordinary practices, to avoid the Zika virus. Ninety percent of OB/GYNs said they are advising their patients not to travel to affected countries while they are expecting or looking to become pregnant. Doctors’ primary precautions are to use mosquito protection and follow public health agency guidelines prior to travel. Only a third of these doctors would automatically test for the Zika virus if the patient had been to an affected area.
Of the women surveyed, 65 percent said they were very concerned about the Zika virus, yet over half of those considering getting pregnant would not delay pregnancy plans under any circumstances.
Other patient survey findings include:
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InCrowd also surveyed physicians shortly after the terrorist attacks in Paris, as well as on their prescribing attitudes after FDA hearings on the release of two PCSK9 inhibitor drugs.
For the Zika virus survey, InCrowd used its microsurvey software to gather real-time data from 70 OB/GYNs and 150 women currently pregnant or considering pregnancy. The two surveys fielded for about two days each, and the results provide a strong snapshot of what these two groups think.
“If you pay attention to the media at any given hour, things feel like they are nearing hysteria,” says Diane Hayes, InCrowd’s president and an epidemiologist. “That’s why we wanted to tap into our physician and patient network to understand how this was affecting the first responders and impacteds, if you will, and what they are really thinking and doing in the face of a possible Zika outbreak.”
InCrowd will continue to monitor sentiments around the Zika virus in this slice of the U.S. population. “It’s such an important way for the healthcare community to get these perspective in real time, as the crisis unfolds, and for these doctors and women to be a part of the public dialogue around a major health issue,” Hayes says.
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