Japanese Encephalitis in Assam, India: Need to Increase Healthcare Workers’ Understanding to Improve Health Care

Akram Ahmad et al,PLOS One



Japanese encephalitis (JE) is a major cause of high morbidity and mortality in several states across India. However, in 2014, a sharp rise was observed in the number of cases of JE in north-eastern Assam state, and 51% of the total cases of JE in India were reported from the Assam in the same year. In this regard, a study was conducted to evaluate the knowledge and attitudes of healthcare workers in Darrang, a district of Assam highly affected by JE.


A cross sectional study was conducted for 2 months among HCWs in the major district hospital of Darrang, Assam. A pre-tested, self-administered questionnaire was used to collect data from the participants. Convenience sampling approach was used to collect data from different departments of the hospitals. Descriptive and logistic regression analyses were used to express the results.


The knowledge of HCWs regarding JE was poor with a mean knowledge score of 11.02±2.39 (out of 17), while their attitudes were positive with a mean attitudes score of 43.16± 2.47 (ranging from 13 to 52). Overall, 40.4% and 74.3% of participants demonstrated good knowledge and positive attitudes respectively. Cut-off score for good knowledge and positive attitudes toward JE was set as ≥12 and >40 respectively. Older participants (40–49 years) and experienced workers (>10 years) were significantly associated with good knowledge as compared to their referent group (p<0.05), while knowledge of nurses and other orderlies were significantly lower than physicians (p<0.01). Similar factors were associated with the positive attitudes of the participants with the exception of experience. Television was the major source of information regarding JE reported by HCWs (79%).


Although the knowledge was not optimized, HCWs exhibited positive attitudes towards JE. Future research is required to design, implement and evaluate interventions to improve the knowledge of JE among HCWs.