Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Alicia Mason,

Second Advisor

Shirley Drew,

Third Advisor

Gwen Murdock,


Using the Extended Parallel Processing Model (EPPM) as a theoretical framework, the present 3-phase longitudinal study examines the impact of media exposure to Zika information on public perception of the threat severity, personal susceptibility, and behavioral intentions toward the threat of Zika virus between May and November of 2016. A total of 826 participants took an online survey throughout three phases, roughly one month apart. Participants were recruited using Amazon Mechanical Turk and TurkPrime. Measured EPPM concepts include: perceived severity, susceptibility, self- efficacy, response-efficacy, third-person effects, combined with behavioral intentions. Participants also selected the sources from which they received information about Zika, and tested their knowledge of the symptoms of the disease. Results indicate that there was no significant difference between times surveyed and severity but perceived susceptibility did change over time. Participants who heard about Zika more than ten times reported higher intentions to get screening and share Zika-related information online. Implications for health communication risk communication theorists and pragmatic patient-centered care are provided. The importance of studying public attitudes on disease outbreaks and premise for basing future studies in emphasized. Methodological limitations, and future research directions are provided.



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