Nanos, nit-picked (UPDATED) - Macleans.ca
 

Nanos, nit-picked (UPDATED)


 

UPDATE: The tables are now up at the IRPP

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Free-agent pollster Nik Nanos has a new study out with the IRPP, looking at attitudes toward H1N1. According to the polling analysis, “Seven Canadians in ten aren’t at all worried or are not very worried about H1N1, despite saturation coverage in the media about Ottawa’s ability to provide an adequate supply of vaccine and the provinces’ capacity to meet the demand.”

I’ll take his word for it — I have not yet been able to find the complete tables on the site. (Can you? I must be looking in the wrong place).

There is one weird passage in the analysis. Nanos writes:

Although a pandemic in name, public opinion at the time of the Nanos-Policy Options survey indicates that with a strong majority of Canadians not worried about H1N1, this may be perceived as more of a nasty flu than a pandemic.

The contrast between “nasty flu” and “pandemic” seems to be a category mistake. “Pandemic” is not a measure of the severity of the illness or of how sick it makes you, it is a combined measure of the novelty of the illness in the population, its global distribution, and its infectiousness. The seasonal flu is a pandemic, regardless of how nasty or nice it is. Here’s the wikipedia def of pandemic.

This is a common mistake. I suspect it comes from a false assumption that the word “pandemic” is a combination of “panic” and “epidemic” — an epidemic so nasty we should panic!

Anyhoo, here’s the Nanos press release:

Nik on the Numbers

Seven Canadians in ten aren’t at all worried or are not very worried about H1N1, despite saturation coverage in the media about Ottawa’s ability to provide an adequate supply of vaccine and the provinces’ capacity to meet the demand.

As of November 8th, the Public Health Agency had estimated that over 6 million doses had been distributed to the provinces.

Although a pandemic in name, public opinion at the time of the Nanos-Policy Options survey indicates that with a strong majority of Canadians not worried about H1N1, this may be perceived as more of a nasty flu than a pandemic.

Furthermore, a majority of Canadians think Ottawa is doing an adequate job of assuring a supply of flu vaccine, and that their provincial governments are equally doing a decent job of meeting the demand.

Of note, the most striking differences were between Canada’s two most populous provinces. Ontarians were more likely to be worried and were more likely to give lower approval ratings while Quebecers were less worried and gave higher approval ratings (see our website for more information).

These are the principal findings of the latest Nanos Research poll conducted exclusively for Policy Options, and published as an Online Extra. The poll is a companion piece to our survey on Canadians’ attitudes on health care, published as part of the cover package, “Health Care, Again”, in the November issue of the magazine (it can be viewed and downloaded at www.irpp.org). The detailed tables and methodology are also posted on our website. You can also register to receive automatic polling updates.


 
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Nanos, nit-picked (UPDATED)

  1. I find these polls very useful. The fact that "seven Canadians in ten aren't at all worried or are not very worried about H1N1" can mean only one thing – Carolyn Bennett needs to kick it up a notch.

    • Brian Hayday must agree:

      November 12, 2009
      Schulich School tonight on leadership

      An honour to be asked to Brian Hayday's MBA class to talk about leadership….

      http://www.carolynbennett.ca/

  2. I really think we need better communication and education about the flu and pandemics to Canadians. It's like the majority only care if it's something that will make themselves or their families severely ill. The reason for worrying about swine flu was never that it was a killer, but that it's tendency to rapidly spread could quickly overwhelm our health care resources.

    On a related note, vaccination clinics were SHUT DOWN for Remembrance Day here in Waterloo. WTF? Did that happen everywhere? And how on earth do health officials expect to be taken seriously if they take a stat day in the face of a worrisome pandemic? They really need to consider the long term damage of 'crying wolf''. (They haven't done themselves any favours with the yearly West Nile fear mongering, as another example.)

    • There's also that people with chronic pulmonary disease and poor immune health are more susceptible to severe complication with H1N1. Given the gargantuan amount of kids with asthma out there that's what we should worry about.

      I agree with you that we need better communication. One thing that I'd like the media o focus on is the importance of the vaccine. One thing that I don't want the media to focus on is numbers because we won't know the real statistics of swine flu vs seasonal flu until this season is over.

      • "There's also that people with chronic pulmonary disease and poor immune health are more susceptible to severe complication with H1N1."

        Is that moreso than seasonal flu?

        I also need to read up a bit more on the potential for subsequent waves (again, I'd like to see more cohesive and clear flows of information from public health on that topic).

  3. Did you mean to say Nanos was "Nik" picked… Kady would not have missed that one :))

  4. Yes, we all miss our Kady…

  5. No, the seasonal flu is *not* pandemic, by the very definition of what a pandemic is. An epidemic happens when an incidence of a particular kind of sickness rises above the regular background level you’d normally expect, and a pandemic is when it spreads worldwide. In this case, the regular background level *is* seasonal flu, so it’s very far from being pandemic.

    • Good thanks — corrected.

  6. I look at the Nanos numbers and wonder to what degree we still believe in expertise. The people arguing we should all be very worked up about H1N1 keep pointing at supposed expertise and experts to back up their arguments. They spend half their time explaining things patiently thinking people will finally get it and the rest of the time getting upset that people aren't getting it and therefore resorting to wild claims of imminent disaster. (And this applies to lots of other areas where "action" is required.)

    And then you see a poll like this and think, people just don't believe this stuff anymore. We read a headline that says "New study determines that …." and click, we're gone to something else. I know that is what I do and I don't think I'm alone.