University of Twente Student Theses


Improving MRSA risk communication towards the Dutch general public: A Mental Model Approach

Reijerink, J. (2017) Improving MRSA risk communication towards the Dutch general public: A Mental Model Approach.

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Abstract:Background: The amount of infection outbreaks is increasing significantly. This is due to high proportions of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria change when they are exposed to antibiotics. As a result, medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics, and is ever more becoming a public health problem, due to its prevalence among animals, food and otherwise healthy people. MRSA is a common cause of severe infections (e.g. sepsis) in healthcare facilities; the community and the YOPI (Young, Old, Pregnant and Immunosuppressed) are at-risk for these infections. It is essential that risk communication promotes awareness of MRSA among the general public, and in particular among the YOPI-group, so they can adopt preventive health and infection control measures, especially in outbreaks. Methods: Effective risk communication should be tailored to the public’s relevant beliefs and knowledge (“mental models”), therefore the mental models of the Dutch general public concerning MRSA are identified by an electronic self-administered questionnaire (n=1590). A cross-sectional design was used. In addition, perceived vulnerability, MRSA risk perception, MRSA information seeking intention and resource use are explored. Furthermore, between group differences (at-risk / non-at risk for infection by MRSA) in combination with socio-demographics are explored. Results: Although there were many correct beliefs, the public also possessed many misconceptions, in the general, route of infection, reservoir and consequences domain. Knowledge gaps were detected in the route of infection and reservoir domain. The majority of the general public does not know MRSA occurs in cattle, while it is very common in the livestock sector. Females, people aged around 47-48 and low educated people have the least knowledge of MRSA and are the hard-to-reach group. The large majority uses the internet when they search for information regarding MRSA. Conclusions: Our findings highlight the need for the systematic analysis of the public’s mental models prior to designing risk communication. Although the mental model approach (MMA) is very thorough and is time- and cost-intensive, it is worth the investment, since adequate risk communication will be effective on the long term. Future work should make use of the MMA to develop effective risk communication strategies for other possible (new) health threats. Especially countries where MRSA causing infections rates are high, should make use of the MMA to lower these rates.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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