Coping with Outbreaks: Towards an Infectious Disease Threat (IDT) Appraisal Model for Risk Communication

Health Communication.

Abstract: Through an online, nationally representative survey (N = 1,164), this study examines how individuals perceive and cope with infectious disease outbreaks. Findings inform risk and crisis communications strategies for health organizations. This study explored how individuals’ threat appraisals (perceived controllability, perceived predictability, and perceived responsibility) and their cognitive (i.e., information seeking) and conative coping (i.e., protective actions) differ by infectious disease threat (IDT) type (i.e., airborne, bloodborne, foodborne, sexually-transmitted, waterborne, or zoonotic/vector-borne) in epidemic situations. Findings revealed that IDT types varied significantly based on individuals’ appraisals of predictability, controllability, and responsibility for different disease types. Across all disease types, predictability was the most impactful factor related to participants’ information seeking and planned protective action taking.

Yan Jin 

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