Physician Surveys

Identification of a case of infection with a pathogen transmitted commonly through food depends upon accurate diagnosis by a health care provider and on appropriate laboratory testing. To understand current knowledge, attitudes, and practices of physicians, FoodNet conducts periodic surveys of physicians practicing within the surveillance area.

A brief summary of results from FoodNet surveys in 2009, 2000, and 1996, links to the questionnaires, and a list of publications describing results are included below.

In 2009, FoodNet conducted a survey of physicians working in primary care, emergency or urgent care facilities, family practice, and infectious diseases to understand knowledge of treatment and testing for patients with diarrheal illness caused by Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 (STEC) and non-O157 STEC infection and assess knowledge about the development of HUS following infection with STEC. Questions also asked about empiric antimicrobial treatment of patients with acute diarrheal illness and laboratory testing practices for patients with bloody and non-bloody diarrhea.


Clogher P, Hurd S, Hoefer D, Hadler J, Pasutti L, Cosgrove S, Segler S, Tobin-D’Angelo M, Nicholson C, Booth H, Garman K,. Mody R, Gould LH. Assessment of Physician Knowledge and Practices Concerning Shiga Toxin–Producing Escherichia coli Infection and Enteric Illness, 2009, Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet). Clin Infect Dis. 2012 Jun;54 Suppl 5:S446–52.

In 2000, FoodNet surveyed physicians regarding their knowledge, attitudes, and practices as food safety educators for their patients. The survey was limited to physicians working in obstetric, oncology, and infectious disease clinics. Results showed that physicians who perceived foodborne disease to be a serious problem or felt that patients perceived them as a valuable resource for food safety advice were more likely to provide food safety information to patients.


Wong S, Marcus R, Hawkins M, Shallow S, McCombs KG, Swanson E, Anderson B, Shiferaw B, Garman R, Noonan K, Van Gilder T. Physicians as food-safety educators: a practices and perceptions survey. Clin Infect Dis. 2004;38(Suppl 3):S212–218.

In 1996, FoodNet conducted a survey of randomly selected physicians in five sites to understand practices regarding the diagnosis of acute diarrheal diseases. The questionnaire collected information on specialty, training, amount of time in direct patient care, and division of time between in-patient and ambulatory care. Questions focused on the most recent patient seen with diarrhea. Results showed that physicians were more likely to request a culture from persons with bloody stools and those who had traveled to a developing country, had diarrhea for more than 3 days, or had a fever.


Hennessy TW, Marcus R, Deneen V, Reddy S, Vugia D, Townes J, Bardsley M, Swerdlow D, Angulo FJ. Survey of physician diagnostic practices for patients with acute diarrhea: clinical and public health implications. Clin Infect Dis. 2004;38(Suppl 3):S203–211.