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1.  Epidemiology of respiratory viral infections in children enrolled in a study of influenza vaccine effectiveness 
Influenza-like illness (ILI) confers a high annual morbidity in young children. We report the epidemiology of ILIs in children who participated in an influenza vaccine effectiveness study during the 2010 Southern Hemisphere influenza season in Sydney, Australia.
Children aged 0·5–3 years were prospectively recruited from child care centres (CCCs). We classified them as fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated and unvaccinated according to their receipt of unadjuvanted vaccines containing influenza A (H1N1)pdm09. For 13 weeks commencing 30 July 2010, parents reported when their children developed an ILI (fever ≥37·8°C/feverishness plus ≥1 respiratory symptom) and collected nose and/or throat swabs for multiplex respiratory virus polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. Health impacts were assessed by telephone interview at enrolment and two weeks after each ILI.
There were 124 ILIs reported in 105 of 381 enrolled children. Swabs were taken in 117 ILIs: 175 viruses were identified from 103 swabs. Adeno- and rhinoviruses were most frequently identified; 44% of swabs yielded multiple viruses. No virus was associated with more severe symptoms, although rhinovirus-related ILIs lasted longer. Nose swabs had a higher virus detection rate than throat swabs. Influenza-vaccinated children were 1·6 times (P = 0·001) more likely than unvaccinated children to have a non-influenza ILI.
Adeno- and rhinoviruses were the most common viruses causing ILI. Swabs taken by parents are an effective method for sample collection. Influenza-like illness was more common in children vaccinated against influenza in this observational study, but prior health-seeking behaviour may have contributed to this difference.
PMCID: PMC4181477  PMID: 24483149
Children; influenza; respiratory viral infections
2.  Communicating with parents about vaccination: a framework for health professionals 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:154.
A critical factor shaping parental attitudes to vaccination is the parent’s interactions with health professionals. An effective interaction can address the concerns of vaccine supportive parents and motivate a hesitant parent towards vaccine acceptance. Poor communication can contribute to rejection of vaccinations or dissatisfaction with care. We sought to provide a framework for health professionals when communicating with parents about vaccination.
Literature review to identify a spectrum of parent attitudes or ‘positions’ on childhood vaccination with estimates of the proportion of each group based on population studies. Development of a framework related to each parental position with determination of key indicators, goals and strategies based on communication science, motivational interviewing and valid consent principles.
Five distinct parental groups were identified: the ‘unquestioning acceptor’ (30–40%), the ‘cautious acceptor’ (25–35%); the ‘hesitant’ (20–30%); the ‘late or selective vaccinator’ (2–27%); and the ‘refuser’ of all vaccines (<2%). The goals of the encounter with each group will vary, depending on the parents’ readiness to vaccinate. In all encounters, health professionals should build rapport, accept questions and concerns, and facilitate valid consent. For the hesitant, late or selective vaccinators, or refusers, strategies should include use of a guiding style and eliciting the parent’s own motivations to vaccinate while, avoiding excessive persuasion and adversarial debates. It may be necessary to book another appointment or offer attendance at a specialised adverse events clinic. Good information resources should also be used.
Health professionals have a central role in maintaining public trust in vaccination, including addressing parents’ concerns. These recommendations are tailored to specific parental positions on vaccination and provide a structured approach to assist professionals. They advocate respectful interactions that aim to guide parents towards quality decisions.
PMCID: PMC3480952  PMID: 22998654
3.  Improving uptake of MMR vaccine 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2008;336(7647):729-730.
Recognising and targeting differences between population groups are the priorities
PMCID: PMC2287215  PMID: 18309963
4.  Media coverage of health issues and how to work more effectively with journalists: a qualitative study 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:535.
The mass media has enormous potential to influence health-related behaviours and perceptions. Much research has focused on how the media frames health issues. This study sought to explore how journalists in Australia select and shape news on health issues.
The study involved semi-structured interviews with 16 journalists from major Australian print, radio and television media organisations reporting on avian influenza and pandemic planning. Journalists, including reporters, editors and producers, were interviewed between October 2006 and August 2007. Thematic analysis was used to draw out major lessons for health communicators.
Journalists routinely attempted to balance different, sometimes competing, aims amidst significant operational constraints. They perceived the most trusted sources on health issues to be respected and independent doctors. Specialist health and medical reporters had a more sound technical knowledge, channels to appropriate sources, power within their organisations, and ability to advocate for better quality coverage.
An awareness of how to work with the media is essential for health communicators. This includes understanding journalists' daily routines, being available, providing resources, and building relationships with specialist health reporters.
PMCID: PMC2941688  PMID: 20822552
5.  "Will they just pack up and leave?" – attitudes and intended behaviour of hospital health care workers during an influenza pandemic 
There is a general consensus that another influenza pandemic is inevitable. Although health care workers (HCWs) are essential to the health system response, there are few studies exploring HCW attitudes to pandemic influenza. The aim of this study was to explore HCWs knowledge, attitudes and intended behaviour towards pandemic influenza.
Cross-sectional investigation of a convenience sample of clinical and non-clinical HCWs from two tertiary-referral teaching hospitals in Sydney, Australia was conducted between June 4 and October 19, 2007. The self-administered questionnaire was distributed to hospital personal from 40 different wards and departments. The main outcome measures were intentions regarding work attendance and quarantine, antiviral use and perceived preparation.
Respondents were categorized into four main groups by occupation: Nursing (47.5%), Medical (26.0%), Allied (15.3%) and Ancillary (11.2%). Our study found that most HCWs perceived pandemic influenza to be very serious (80.9%, n = 873) but less than half were able to correctly define it (43.9%, n = 473). Only 24.8% of respondents believed their department to be prepared for a pandemic, but nonetheless most were willing to work during a pandemic if a patient or colleague had influenza. The main determinants of variation in our study were occupational factors, demographics and health beliefs. Non-clinical staff were significantly most likely to be unsure of their intentions (OR 1.43, p < 0.001). Only 42.5% (n = 459) of respondents considered that neuraminidase inhibitor antiviral medications (oseltamivir/zanamivir) would protect them against pandemic influenza, whereas 77.5% (n = 836) believed that vaccination would be of benefit.
We identified two issues that could undermine the best of pandemic plans – the first, a low level of confidence in antivirals as an effective measure; secondly, that non-clinical workers are an overlooked group whose lack of knowledge and awareness could undermine pandemic plans. Other issues included a high level of confidence in dietary measures to protect against influenza, and a belief among ancillary workers that antibiotics would be protective. All health care worker strategies should include non clinical and ancillary staff to ensure adequate business continuity for hospitals. HCW education, psychosocial support and staff communication could improve knowledge of appropriate pandemic interventions and confidence in antivirals.
PMCID: PMC2661074  PMID: 19216792
6.  Effects of a web based decision aid on parental attitudes to MMR vaccination: a before and after study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2006;332(7534):146-149.
Objective To determine whether an evidence based decision aid on the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine changed parents' attitudes towards vaccination.
Design Before and after study.
Setting Website promoted through search engines and online parenting and health websites.
Participants 158 people completing online questions out of 1277 who accessed the website.
Intervention Evidence based decision aid with text and graphical representation of the possible outcomes of measles, mumps, and rubella diseases compared with MMR vaccination.
Main outcome measures Attitudes towards MMR vaccination.
Results Significantly more participants indicated they were “leaning towards” vaccination after using the decision aid (39% before v 55% after, P < 0.001). Compared with those who were undecided or “leaning away from” vaccination after using the decision aid, participants “leaning towards” it were more likely to strongly value its potential to protect their children from the serious side effects of disease (98% v 84%) and other children who could not be vaccinated for medical reasons (68% v 25%). Participants with an unfavourable attitude to vaccination were more likely to be very concerned about the rare side effects of vaccination (78% v 57%), have residual concerns about autism and bowel disease (78% v 27%), and anticipate guilt should their child have an adverse reaction (77% v 50%). Those with a positive attitude to vaccination after using the decision aid were also more likely to feel well informed (83% v 48%).
Conclusions A web based decision aid significantly improved parental attitudes to MMR vaccination. Residual concerns about autism and bowel disease and the rare chance of serious complications remained as attitudinal barriers to some parents.
PMCID: PMC1336764  PMID: 16352657

Results 1-6 (6)