Facts about hospital bugs such as MRSA need to be communicated more effectively to reduce the fear of infection among the general public, according to University of Ulster research.
Addressing the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference today, Dr Tony Cassidy from Ulster’s School of Psychology, warned that the constant media focus on MRSA was making some people unnecessarily fearful.
Dr Cassidy’s study of over 500 adults aimed to assess what impact the media coverage of hospital bugs – most commonly MRSA – had on people’s attitudes and beliefs about health care.
He surveyed 345 females and 177 males about their knowledge and attitude to MRSA, experience of hospitals, health status and optimism.
The results revealed that attitudes and beliefs centred on hospital hygiene, fear of infection, and the tendency to avoid hospitals.
Dr Cassidy said: “The constant media focus on MRSA in hospitals, and the sensational language used in the messages, has damaged attitudes and made some people unnecessarily fearful. Healthcare professionals need to be aware that myths and misinformation may have potentially serious consequences if it leads to those who are ill avoiding GPs and hospitals because of their fear of infection.”
The British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference takes place in Stratford-upon-Avon from 14 -16 April 2010.