Emergency physicians' perspectives on smallpox vaccination

Nancy Kwon, Maria C. Raven, William K. Chiang, Gregory J. Moran, Jon Jui, Richard A. Carter, Lewis Goldfrank

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate emergency physician (EP) attitudes toward smallpox vaccination, the treatment of patients with suspected smallpox, and the threat of a bioterrorist attack. Methods: This was a prospective study utilizing a standardized survey instrument that was distributed on November 16, 2002, and collected by February 1, 2003. EPs from a sample of 50 accredited emergency medicine programs were surveyed regarding their perspectives on smallpox vaccination. Results: A total of 989 surveys were collected from 42 emergency medicine programs. Of the respondents, 43.4% would currently volunteer for smallpox vaccination. EPs previously vaccinated against smallpox were 1.46 times more likely to volunteer for vaccination (95% CI = 1.14 to 1.93). EPs who believed they were at risk for complications were less than half as likely to volunteer for vaccination. EPs who perceived a significant risk of a bioterrorist attack were 2.7 times more likely to volunteer for the vaccine compared with those who thought the risk was minimal (95% CI = 2.06 to 3.47). Of the respondents, 34.4% believed the risks of the vaccination outweighed the benefits, 33% did not, and 32.6% were unsure. Conclusions: Currently, fewer than half of EPs surveyed would volunteer for smallpox vaccination. Factors associated with a willingness to be vaccinated include previous smallpox vaccination and the perceived threat of a bioterrorist attack. The variation in EP attitudes toward smallpox vaccination may be due to uncertain risk-to-benefit ratio. The opinions and actions of EPs may be influential on current and future government policy and public opinion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)599-605
Number of pages7
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003


  • Bioterrorism
  • Emergency physicians
  • Smallpox
  • Vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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