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Impact of disease characteristics and knowledge on public risk perception of zoonoses

Published version
Peer-reviewed

Type

Article

Change log

Authors

Spence, CE 
Jenkins, SC 

Abstract

Zoonoses represent a global public health threat. Understanding lay perceptions of risk associated with these diseases can better inform proportionate policy interventions that mitigate their current and future impacts. While individual zoonoses (e.g. bovine spongiform encephalopathy) have received scientific and public attention, we know little about how multiple zoonotic diseases vary relative to each other in lay risk perceptions. To this end, we examined public perceptions of 11 zoonoses across 12 qualitative attributes of risk among the UK public (n = 727, volunteer sample), using an online survey. We found that attribute ratings were predominantly explained via two basic dimensions of risk related to public knowledge and dread. We also show that, despite participants reporting low familiarity with most of the diseases presented, zoonoses were perceived as essentially avoidable. These findings imply that infection is viewed as dependent upon actions under personal control which has significant implications for policy development.

Description

Keywords

SARS-CoV-2, attitudes, human–animal interaction, psychometric paradigm, risk perception, zoonoses, Animals, Cattle, Humans, Perception, Public Health, Surveys and Questionnaires, Zoonoses

Journal Title

Biology Letters

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

1744-9561
1744-957X

Volume Title

18

Publisher

The Royal Society
Sponsorship
Economic and Social Research Council (ES/V010042/1)
This work was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council [grant no. 260 ES/V010042/1].