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Evaluating the impact of a West Nile Virus education and outreach campaign in Kansas: Implications for environmental public health education

Ellen Averett, PhD, MHSA1, John Neuberger, MBA, MPH, DrPH2, Gail Hansen, DVM, MPH3, and Michael H. Fox, ScD1. (1) Health Policy & Management, University of Kansas School of Medicine, 3901 Rainbow Blvd., Kansas City, KS 66160, 913 588-1274, eaverett@kumc.edu, (2) Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Kansas School of Medicine, 3901 Rainbow Boulevard, Mail Stop 1008, Kansas City, KS 66160, (3) Kansas Department of Health and Environment, 1000 SW Jackson, Topeka, KS 66612

Each year, states spend public health dollars and resources on West Nile Virus (WNV) public education, yet little is know about the efficacy of these efforts. Facing an increased incidence of WNV in Kansas in the summer of 2003, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment contracted with researchers from the Kansas University Medical Center to evaluate the impact of its multi-media WNV public education and awareness campaign. The investigation focused on the knowledge, behavior, and attitudes of Kansans with respect to WNV and associated protective measures. The evaluation was multi-modal employing a household phone survey, media survey, business partners’ survey, and interviews at senior centers and retirement communities in 10 representative counties. Results indicated widespread recognition of WNV including transmission and associated risks; and fairly widespread knowledge of protective measures. National news programs, newspapers, and word-of-mouth were the most often cited sources of information. Public service announcements and brochures were least frequently cited. Slightly over half of those who knew to use insect repellent as a WNV protective measure actually did. Many had concerns about the safety of DEET. Suggestions for future campaigns include greater use of paid media time, prominent news feeds, “just-in-time” public information, greater dissemination of relative safety profile of DEET, greater use of communications methods most likely to reach seniors, and culturally sensitive materials.

Learning Objectives:

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Empowering Communities to Face Emerging Environmental Health Challenges

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA