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Pandemic Polling: The Public’s Response to a Pandemic Outbreak Scenario [2006]

March 16, 2020

In 2006, the Harvard School of Public Health Project on the Public & Biological Security, with support from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASHTO) conducted a unique in-depth poll on the public’s response to a hypothetical pandemic outbreak of influenza. Many of the scenarios presented in that survey are those the American public is facing today: school closures, social distancing and quarantine, work from home, and care-taking for sick family members.

Respondents were asked about the barriers that they would face in trying to stay at home: loss of work or pay, difficulty caring for children, or difficulty accessing necessary health care or prescription drugs. The survey also asked about preparedness, including household supplies for staying at home.

As a service to those involved in addressing these issues in the current crisis, the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research is making this dataset publicly available. Access dataset.



Other public opinion resources for the coronavirus pandemic available to Roper Center members

The question database contains information about the public’s reaction to new infectious health threats, such as swine flu, SARS, H1N1, Ebola and Zika. Topics covered include level of concern, behaviors and preventative measures taken, knowledge about transmission and symptoms of disease, approval of government response, support for enforced quarantine, and other issues. New questions about coronavirus from our Roper iPoll data providers are being added as they are released. Additionally, questions from surveys on other subjects, including questions about general emergency preparedness, community resilience, or working from home, are also directly relevant to current events. Search Roper iPoll here. 

Datasets on these topics allow users to compare attitudes, behaviors, and concerns among different demographics groups. Additional datasets of interest include:

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Project on Biosecurity survey series on emerging infectious diseases

Harvard School of Public Health/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Poll: Health Priorities Survey 2--Public Health Priorities, the Nation's Public Health System, and State Health Departments

Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research Poll: Resilience in the Wake of Superstorm Sandy

Kaiser Family Foundation/Episcopal Health Foundation Poll: Post-Harvey Survey Roper Center data:

Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard University/Washington Post Poll: Hurricane Katrina Evacuees Survey Roper Center data: