Researchers determine public attitudes towards monkeypox infections

In a recent study posted to the medRxiv* preprint server, researchers assessed the attitudes of the general US population towards monkeypox infections.

Study: Attitudes of the US general public towards Monkeypox. Image Credit: Zeedign.com/Shutterstock
Study: Attitudes of the US general public towards Monkeypox. Image Credit: Zeedign.com/Shutterstock

The aftermath of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has highlighted the importance of early attention to the general public’s behavioral response to an infection. Thus, it is crucial to understand the knowledge of the general population and their attitudes towards the recent monkeypox outbreak and the monkeypox vaccine.

About the study

In the present study, researchers surveyed the US public regarding their knowledge and attitudes towards monkeypox, the sources of information they trust, and the correlation between their attitudes toward the COVID-19 and the monkeypox vaccines.

The team conducted an online survey in the United States with a representative sample recruited through CloudResearch in June 2022. The participants were asked to answer questions related to their knowledge and awareness of monkeypox, the information sources they trust, their COVID-19 vaccination status, and their attitudes toward receiving a monkeypox vaccine if they were recommended to do so. 

The team further summarized the descriptive statistics and weighted the data according to gender, age, and race. Subsequently, logistic regression analysis was performed to estimate the predictors of intention to receive a recommended monkeypox vaccine.

Results

The study cohort comprised a total of 856 participants, including 51% women, 41% individuals having a college degree or a higher qualification, and 38% individuals aged 55 years and above. The study results showed that the source of information that the study cohort trusted the most regarding information related to the monkeypox breakout were healthcare professionals, health officials such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and social media accounts belonging to familiar researchers and doctors.

Almost 68% of the study population had received their COVID-19 vaccination. Furthermore, 79% of the cohort was conscious of the monkeypox outbreak; however, 47% of the population opined that they had poor to very poor knowledge about the monkeypox infections. Approximately 44% of the participants expressed concern regarding the outbreak. Furthermore, 83%, 80%, and 48% of the individuals believed that avoiding close contact with infected people, washing hands with water and soap, and consuming a balanced diet are effective ways to prevent monkeypox infection.

Among the 55% of the cohort who were aged more than 45 years, 67% reported being vaccinated against smallpox, 19% were not, and 14% were not aware of their smallpox vaccination status. Furthermore, 46% of the cohort said if recommended, they would receive the monkeypox vaccine and 29% of the individuals declined while 25% did not know. Notably, females were less likely to agree to receive a recommended monkeypox vaccine as compared to males. 

Conclusion

The study findings showed that the poor levels of knowledge regarding the monkeypox infections as well as the significant correlation between COVID-19 vaccination status and the general attitudes towards a recommended monkeypox vaccine suggested a need for clearer communication about the monkeypox outbreak. The researchers believe that prevention measures and interventions should use trusted sources of information including healthcare officials and professionals, as well as researchers and doctors with a substantial online following. 

*Important notice

medRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or treated as established information.

Journal reference:
Bhavana Kunkalikar

Written by

Bhavana Kunkalikar

Bhavana Kunkalikar is a medical writer based in Goa, India. Her academic background is in Pharmaceutical sciences and she holds a Bachelor's degree in Pharmacy. Her educational background allowed her to foster an interest in anatomical and physiological sciences. Her college project work based on ‘The manifestations and causes of sickle cell anemia’ formed the stepping stone to a life-long fascination with human pathophysiology.

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