South Florida has had the largest number of U.S. Zika infection cases during the recent outbreak. This study aimed at assessing South Floridians' basic knowledge, perceptions of the seriousness and susceptibility to Zika infection, their information sources and needs, as well as their attitudes towards the protective measures proposed by the CDC. We also wanted to assess whether any of those factors have affected the frequency of participants' undertaking of the protective behaviors. To this end, we designed an online questionnaire and surveyed the responses of five hundred South Floridians (Age=18-78 years). We found significant gaps in participants' knowledge about the risk groups, routes of transmission, treatment, and complications of Zika infection. Older age and college education were associated with significantly higher knowledge scores, while the presence of pregnant women in the household was associated with lower scores. About half of the participants perceived Zika to be a profoundly severe health problem, but less than one-third believed that their susceptibility to the infection is high. Most participants agreed that undertaking the measures that limit exposure to mosquito bites would be effective in preventing infections and that they would be able to carry-out these measures if recommended by the CDC, but a significantly lower proportion had similar responses to the items regarding protection against sexual transmission. There was a significant association between the frequency of protective behavior undertaking and respondents' beliefs about the seriousness and personal susceptibility to the infection, as well as their beliefs regarding the efficacy of the protective behaviors. Finally, most participants reported media platforms as their sources of information about Zika, while a minority of them received their information directly from healthcare professionals. These findings suggest that more targeted risk communication efforts are needed to increase South Floridians' awareness about Zika's public health threat.
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Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Medicine
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Elakkari, Mohamed, "Knowledge and Attitudes Regarding the Recent Zika Outbreak Among a Sample of South Florida Residents" (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 5764.