• Infection control;
  • influenza;
  • medical education

Please cite this paper as: May et al. (2010) Assessing physicians’ in training attitudes and behaviors during the 2010 H1N1 influenza season: a cross-sectional survey of medical students and residents in an urban academic setting. Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses DOI: 10.1111/j.1750-2659.2010.00151.x.

Background  Despite concern for hospital-based transmission of influenza, little research has been carried out on perceptions and behaviors of physicians in training with regard to influenza-like illness (ILI), especially in light of the recent H1N1 pandemic.

Objectives  We aimed to evaluate self-reported episodes of ILI among medical students and residents to determine the impact of ILI on school and clinical performance, absenteeism, and patterns of preventive measures used by this population both in and out of the healthcare setting.

Methods  We anonymously surveyed medical students and residents at an urban institution between November 3 and December 11, 2009. Data were analyzed separately for medical students and residents for frequency of close-ended responses. Open-ended answers were analyzed thematically. Our Institutional Review Board exempted this study from review.

Results  Forty-five percent of medical students and 53% of resident respondents perceived the risk of acquiring H1N1 at school or work as high, and although 43% of medical students and 66% of resident respondents had received the influenza vaccination and most reported increasing non-pharmaceutical preventive measures, 9% of medical students and 61% of residents with one or more episodes of ILI chose to continue to attend class or work when ill.

Conclusions  Although students and residents report high risk of infection because of work- or school-related activities, many involved in patient care activities do not comply with recommended infection control precautions. Educational campaigns should be developed and infection control guidelines should be included in routine medical student and resident curricular activities.