La E, Bunniran S, Garbinsky D, Reynolds M, Poston S, Harrington L. Respiratory syncytial virus knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions among older adults in the United States. Poster presented at the 12th International RSV Symposium; September 29, 2022. Belfast, Ireland.

BACKGROUND:  Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is associated with substantial morbidity and mortality in the United States (US), including an estimated 2.2 million symptomatic infections, 177,000 hospitalizations, and 14,000 deaths among adults aged ≥65 years. Despite this burden of disease, no previous studies have assessed the knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions (KAP) of RSV among older adults in the US, with previous studies focusing on RSV-related KAP among other patient populations or health care providers (HCPs). This study evaluates RSV-related KAP among US adults who are at risk of RSV infection, with particular focus on older adults.

METHODS: A cross-sectional, web-based survey was administered between May to June 2022 to better understand respiratory infection- and RSV-related KAP among US adults who are at risk of RSV infection. The survey included ≥200 adults in each of 4 subgroups: older adults aged 60-89 years and adults aged 18-59 years with ≥1 chronic cardiac condition, chronic pulmonary condition, or diabetes.

RESULTS:  The survey was completed by 827 adults, including 224 older adults. Awareness of RSV was generally lower than for other respiratory infections, with fewer than 1 in 3 older adults (n=72/224; 32.1%) reporting that they had ever heard of RSV (Figure 1). Although 68.3% (n=153/224) of older adults considered themselves to be knowledgeable about respiratory infections, only 18.1% (n=13/72) of those aware of RSV reported being knowledgeable about it. Examples of identified knowledge gaps included the bacterial vs. viral nature of infections, RSV seasonality, common symptoms of RSV, and the extent to which RSV is a major cause of respiratory infections for specific patient populations. Most older adults aware of RSV (n=53/72; 73.6%) agreed that they rarely consider RSV as a potential cause of illness when they have cold- or flu-like symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS: Although the COVID-19 pandemic has likely resulted in increased awareness of respiratory infections among the general US population, results from this study highlight important knowledge gaps related to RSV and provide a first look at RSV-related KAP in older adults. Findings can be used by HCPs to inform their RSV disease education efforts, maintaining a patient-centered focus that accounts for current KAP.

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