Using data from 13 surveys of the public, this article compares the public’s response to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Ontario (specifically, Toronto), the other Canadian provinces, and the United States, which had substantial differences in the number of SARS cases. Findings suggest that, even at a relatively low level of spread among the population, the SARS outbreak had a significant psychological and economic impact. They also suggest that the success of efforts to educate the public about the risk of SARS and appropriate precautions was mixed. Some of the community-wide problems with SARS might have been avoided with better communication by public health officials and clinicians.
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