Factors affecting risk perception about drinking water and response to public notification Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/xw42nb69p

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  • Contamination of drinking water occurs despite strict regulations, yet few studies have been conducted to assess the public's perception of risk about drinking water. The purpose of this study was to assess risk perception associated with drinking water supplied by small water systems and to determine alternative measures that people take in response to public notification (PN). The study also explored whether health belief model (HBM) variables and general risk perception about drinking water, were significant predictors of response to PN. Participants were selected from four small Oregon cities (one with a long-term filtration problem and the other with a short-term contamination problem) and two cities without such problems using a stratified random sampling technique. A total of 391 telephone interviews were completed for an average response rate of 69 percent. Results indicated higher risk perception about drinking water among residents of the city with a long-term drinking water problem (Falls City) when compared to the city with a short-term problem (Jefferson) (p=.008). A higher proportion of residents in Jefferson than in Falls City responded to the PN by boiling water (p=.O11), and by taking any action (p=.023) in response to PN. There was a significant difference between the cities with respect to regular bottled water consumption patterns (p=.0002), with Falls City showing the highest mean ranking for bottled water consumption, of all the cities. Logistic regression analysis supported the HBM variables perceived seriousness (OR=2.05, p=.O01), and household size (OR=2.2; p=.027) as predictors of response to PN by taking any action. Perceived seriousness (OR 0.5; p=.004) and income (OR= 2.3; p=.000) emerged as preditors of response to PN by drinking bottled water. General risk perception was a significant negative predictor of response to PN by boiling water (OR=0.57; p=.O19). Mail from the city water utility, county health department and newspapers were the top three sources respondents used to obtain information about drinking water. In all the cities, three quarters of the respondents indicated willingness to pay for the improvement of drinking water, particularly to correct problems related to chemical and microbiological contamination.
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