University of Twente Student Theses


Angst voor infecties : een ‘mental models‘ onderzoek naar zoönosen

Berger, S.A.F. (2015) Angst voor infecties : een ‘mental models‘ onderzoek naar zoönosen.

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Abstract:Background: Zoonoses are infectious diseases which can be transmitted between humans and animals and can be a serious threat to human and animal health. MRSA is one example and can have serious consequences for the human wellbeing. There are specific risk groups for being contaminated and get sick, but also under the general population, there is always a risk to get the pathogens and to transmit them. As the behavior of the public is of great importance for the spreading and the control of infectious diseases it is very important to have an effective risk communication. Yet risk communication is often based on expert models, but the public builds their own mental models about threat and risks. It is necessary to design a method of risk communication that is based on the mental models and needs of the public. Objectives: The aim of the study is to understand the mental models of the public and to find out over fallacies and gaps in their knowledge and thinking. These results should then be the basis to design an effective risk communication. Methods: By means of a qualitative research and semi-structured interviews there is drawn an as extensive as possible image of the mental models of the general Dutch population. The answers of questions about the prevention, spreading, origin, risk factors, consequences, treating and information needs out of 13 interviews were coded in three steps. Out of the codes were drawn mental models and these were then compared with an expert model to find the fallacies and gaps. Results: There are also correct beliefs about MRSA, but also some incorrect ones. The most important one is the underestimation of the risk of MRSA. Most of the people think that the fact that MRSA is a bacteria, which is present mostly in hospitals, means that they do not have any risk to get MRSA in their daily life. They mostly did not have any interest in getting more information, because of the low risk perception. Conclusions: First there should be further research about the topic, for example through quantitative research. The aim then should be to improve the risk communication to the public for a better judgment about risks of MRSA and a more accurate image of MRSA. The information should be based on the mental models of the public. Mostly the respondents were interested in the internet as information source, so it would be the best to design a website which is as appealing as possible and persuasive to the users. The website should therefore be based on further information about risk perception and necessary steps for changing behavior, which can be get by means of the protection motivation theory and a model for behavioral change, such as the transtheoretical model (TTM).
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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