|Abstract or Summary
- The likelihood of achieving an effective environmental health communications
program increases with a knowledge of the target audience's attitudes toward their
environmental health concerns, source credibility, preferred channels of communication,
and desire to participate in environmental issues. With this in mind, the purpose of this
study was threefold: 1) to examine selected personal and social variables that influence
attitudes towards environmental health communications; 2) to explore differences in those
attitudes between groups that share a common environmental hazard within a defined
geographic region; and, 3) to develop a communication needs assessment tool that other
public health agencies might be able to use.
A stratified random telephone sampling of 407 households was conducted in
Idaho's Coeur d'Alene River Basin. Nonparametric statistical methods, Mann-Whitney U
and Kruskal-Wallis one-way analysis of ranks, were utilized for the data analysis.
The results, showed significant differences in the environmental concerns between
the residents of Couer d'Alene and residents of the Silver Valley. Respondents in Coeur
d'Alene were more concerned with air pollution, while respondents in the Silver Valley
were more concerned with the effects of mining.
Secondly, the state government was less negatively received as a source of
environmental information than were the local or federal governments. In addition,
respondents earning between $50,000 and $75,000 a year have the highest amount of trust
in information coming from the federal government.
Both TV news and local newspaper were the preferred channels of communication
for the majority of respondents in the region. Qualitative data revealed that media sources
from Spokane, Washington were a dominant influence in the region.
Respondents with a college degree were less likely than respondents from other
educational levels to prefer TV news as a source of environmental information. They
were, however, more likely to participate in a public meeting than were respondents from
other educational levels.
Finally, research findings suggest that women, and respondents earning less than
$10,000 per year, feel less control over their environmental health than do men and
respondents from higher income levels. They are also less likely than either men or
respondents earning more than $10,000 per year to feel that a citizen's efforts to protect
the environment are usually effective.