228841 Effect of risk perception on self-protective behavior for West Nile virus

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Craig W. Trumbo, PhD , Department of Journalism and Technical Communication, and the Colorado School of Public Health, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Emily Zielinski-Gutierrez, DrPH , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Raquel Harper, MS , Department of Journalism and Technical Communication, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Cindy Kronauge, MPH , Health Communication Education and Planning, Weld County Department of Health and Environment, Greeley, CO
Sara Evans, MPH , Health Communication Education and Planning, Weld County Department of Public Health & Environment, Greeley, CO
The endemic state of West Nile virus (WNV) underscores the need to examine factors influencing prevention. Little is known about the manner in which individuals perceive risk for WNV and how risk perception may affect behavior. This study was located in Greeley, CO., where WNV rates have been elevated in recent years. Data were collected using a mail survey. The four-page questionnaire (English and Spanish) was mailed to 777 residents proportionally sampled for ethnicity (Hispanic-Latino/Anglo). Aggressive follow-up and incentives were employed. 385 questionnaires were returned (50%). The questionnaire included items to apply recent findings on cognitive-affective modeling of risk perception, combined with work using ecological and proximity risk perception constructs. These elements were integrated into the Health Belief Model. The data show that older female Hispanic/Latinos engage in more protective behaviors. There is also an oppositional effect between the perceived benefits and barriers concerning protective behaviors. Further, exposure to information on WNV motivates people to take protective behavior. We see four conclusions and associated opportunities for further investigation. 1) The results support use of information to increase protective behaviors. Development and evaluation of ethnically based information intervention is needed. 2) WNV is relatively non-virulent but because of its zoonotic nature and mosquito vector transmission it can serve as a proxy for other emerging vector-borne infectious diseases. More insight into public response to this health threat is urgently needed. 3) There are strong contrasts on the model variables across ethnicity, showing that Hispanic-Latinos and Anglos have very different experiences with WNV.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe four perspectives on how risk perception affects protective behavior for West Nile virus. 2. Identify the risk related elements that may be used to design effective West Nile virus communications. 3. Differentiate how West Nile information may be provided to Anglo versus Hispanic/Latino populations.

Keywords: Risk Communication, Hispanic

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have conducted research on risk perception and communication for an extended period and currently lead several investigatory teams in this area.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.