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Denial of risk in a restorative environment: The case of Lyme disease

Marcu, A, Uzzell, D and Barnett, J (2010) Denial of risk in a restorative environment: The case of Lyme disease In: Trees and Forests in British Society, 2010-04-12 - 2010-04-15, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh.

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Many people take great pleasure in spending time in the great outdoors and still more are being encouraged to visit green spaces to improve their health and well-being. Although considerable evidence supports the benefits of spending time in the countryside, little is known about how best to warn visitors of potential risks and encourage appropriate behaviour without causing alarm. With a focus on Lyme disease, an interdisciplinary research team is exploring the possible impact of zoonotic diseases on the development of recreation in rural areas, within an overarching framework of risk communication. Lyme disease (also known as Lyme borreliosis) is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. Lyme disease is found in a number of wild animal hosts and can be transferred to humans by infected ticks. It is important to understand how individuals, groups and organizations respond to the risk of zoonotic diseases in order to improve the provision of risk information and the strategies of risk communication. The presentations in this symposium will focus on visitors’ actual behaviour in the countryside, visitors’ perceptions of zoonotic risk, and on organizations’ communication strategies in relation to zoonoses. Overall, this session will advance our understanding of risk perceptions and risk behaviour among visitors and organizations strategies of risk communication. How does visitors’ behaviour expose them to risk of Lyme disease? The first presentation will focus on people’s risk awareness and landscape preference assessed via GPS tracking and behavioural observations. This research explores the spatial use by recreational users and associated levels of preventative behaviour, and will lead to the development of an agent-based model of potential risk of contact between users and ticks. Are visitors aware of Lyme disease and where do they place ticks among other countryside hazards? The second presentation will draw on individual interviews conducted with visitors in the countryside to explore visitors’ perceptions of risk of Lyme disease and their attitudes towards risk communication. This research maps the visitors’ denial of hazards in restorative environments such as parks and countryside, and their optimistic bias regarding their own invulnerability to Lyme disease. The implications of the visitors’ lack of receptivity to risk communication will be discussed. How do forest and countryside organizations provide information about zoonotic risks to their visitors? An analysis of leaflets on ticks and Lyme disease and 20 semi-structured interviews with organization representatives give insight into the current understanding of the disease and preferred methods for information provision. Overall, the results indicate a lack of clarity within organisations as to where risk information is held and how it is provided. The implications for the communication of zoonotic risk will be discussed.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Authors :
Barnett, J
Date : 14 April 2010
Contributors :
ContributionNameEmailORCID Commission,
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Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 28 Mar 2017 15:27
Last Modified : 21 Jun 2019 10:03

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