Fear of infectious disease has the potential to damage local economies, disrupt health care delivery systems, and diminish immune functioning, whether or not the risk is objectively high. The appearance of Ebola in the United States offered an opportunity to study the causes of fear in a real-world event. Shortly after the death of the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States, survey data were gathered (N = 849) from residents of Dallas and U.S. citizens outside of Texas. Fear was positively associated with age (younger), gender (female), and ethnicity (non-White), but not geographic proximity (Dallas vs. not Dallas). Exposure to Ebola-related information via interpersonal channels (friends/family, acquaintances/coworkers) corresponded with higher levels of fear, but the findings for media channels were more varied, showing positive effects (newspapers/ magazines), negative effects (Internet), and null effects (TV/radio). The study provides insight into the personal, interpersonal, and media correlates of fear of Ebola.
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Dillard, J. P., & Yang, C. (2019). Personal, Interpersonal, and media predictors of fear of ebola. Journal of International Crisis and Risk Communication Research, 2(2), 181-206. https://doi.org/10.30658/jicrcr.2.2.2