Talk of the Zika virus is everywhere. The Rio Olympics are days away in the country where ZIKV was first declared an epidemic. Thousands of miles away, in the United States, Florida has now reported 14 infections caused by local mosquitoes, and the governor is asking for a federal emergency response team.
Meanwhile, throughout 2016 InCrowd has been tracking perceptions of ZIKV among OB/GYNs and women pregnant or considering pregnancy. Our series of three surveys has found that discussions about ZIKV among this patient demographic inflect with the news cycle – versus a constant awareness of the virus, given their at-risk status.
As of June, wave 3 of our survey found that this population of women was having an average of two conversations a week about ZIKV. This coincided with news stories at the time about whether athletes and spectators should attend the Olympics despite the mounting threat of Zika. The average volume of conversations in June was at the same level as it was in February, when the first survey launched and when ZIKV was first declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization.
In the beginning of April, however, our wave 2 survey recorded the average number of conversations among women dipping to 1.5 a week. This decrease was in sync with the news cycle, as there was a lull in coverage and updates about ZIKV.
Even with an average of two conversations per week in February and June, there is a large population of women who have not heard any news about ZIKV–about 20 percent of women in the US polled across all three survey waves.. This 20 percent of women aren’t different in race or ethnicity from their more aware counterparts, but they are in the lower income brackets, making less than $20,000 a year, and tend to not have a college degree.
The majority (70%) of physicians recommend that patients utilize the CDC for news and advice on ZIKV. Yet, perhaps unsurprisingly, patients reported that when they do seek out news on ZIKV, they depend on CNN and other online news sources, like Yahoo News and Google Updates, which offer varying levels of reliable information.
As news reports continue to affect the discourse surrounding Zika virus, InCrowd will continue to track the fluctuations in conversations around this pandemic.