Healthcare seeking behavior of patients with influenza like illness: Comparison of the summer and winter influenza epidemics

Huaiqing Meng, Qiuyan Liao, Kwai Ping Lorna Suen, Margaret May O'Donoghue, Chit Ming Wong, Lin Yang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


� 2016 The Author(s). Background: Influenza often causes winter and summer epidemics in subtropical regions, but few studies have investigated the difference in healthcare seeking behavior of patients with influenza-like illness (ILI) between these two epidemics. Methods: Household telephone surveys were conducted using random digit dialing in Hong Kong during July-August 2014 and March-April 2015. One adult from each household was interviewed for ILI symptoms and associated healthcare seeking behaviour of themselves and one child in the household (if any), during the preceding 30 days. Healthcare seeking behavior of respondents with self-reported ILI was compared between summer and winter influenza. Logistic regression was used to explore the factors associated with healthcare seeking behavior. Results: Among 516 and 539 adult respondents in the summer and winter surveys, 22.6 and 38.0 % reported ILI symptoms, and 40.9 and 46.8 % of them sought medical care, respectively. There was no significant difference in healthcare seeking behavior between the summer and winter epidemics, except a higher proportion of self-medication in summer in the adult respondents. Among 155 and 182 children reported by the adults in both surveys, the proportion of self-reported ILI was 32.9 and 40.1 % in the summer and winter surveys, respectively. Of these children, 47.1 and 56.2 % were brought for medical consultation in summer and winter, respectively. Women, adults with diabetes and those with symptoms of cough, shortness of breath, and runny nose were more likely to seek medical consultations for ILI symptoms. The factors associated with seeking medical consultations in children with ILI symptoms included being female, age under 10 years, and with symptoms of sore throat or vomiting. Those older than 60 years were less likely to self-medicate, whereas regular smokers and those with symptom of sore throat were more likely to do so. Conclusion: Healthcare seeking behavior of the general public was not significantly different between these two epidemics. However ILI was associated with increased healthcare utilization in both winter and summer epidemics in Hong Kong.
Original languageEnglish
Article number499
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2016


  • Health services research
  • Healthcare seeking behavior
  • Influenza
  • Seasonal variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases


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