American companies found to have reacted well to H1N1

Medical News Today reports that American employers were proactive in dealing with the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic according to a recently released survey.

The survey, conducted by the Harvard Opinion Research Program, was given to 1,491 employees from private sector businesses that employ 20 or more people.

Medical News Today reports that the survey results show that employers encouraged sick workers to stay home and some even created expanded leave policies.

"These results suggest that in a future contagious disease outbreak, many businesses will try to adapt their policies to mitigate the impact on employees, with most adopting protective precautions, such as encouraging sick workers to stay home, and a minority taking other important measures, such as expanding sick leave policies," Robert J. Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health and the director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program, said, according to Medical News Today.

About 60 percent of employees surveyed said their companies also encouraged vaccination for the H1N1 influenza. Larger companies of 500 or more employees were more likely to do so than medium- and small-sized businesses, the survey found.

"Businesses can be a vital public health partner with health authorities during an outbreak," Gillian K. Steelfisher, a research scientist in the HSPH Department of Health Policy and Management and a member of the polling team, said, according to Medical News Today. "Public health officials at federal, state and local levels should develop plans that specifically bring educational materials and preventive measures into the workplace."