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. Zika is a disease that is spread by mosquitos and through sexual contact. It was first discovered in Uganda in 1947, when it was reported to cause only flu-like symptoms, which dissipated in 5-7 days. However, in 2015 multiple cases were diagnosed in Brazil and other South American countries. By Spring 2015, CDC named it an emergency health threat and encouraged travelers to be vigilant and protect themselves from mosquitos. For reference, May began the height of mosquito season, an increasing number of cases being reported, as well as research connecting Zika to microcephaly, and the news that Zika could be transmitted sexually. By November, the media reported more cases in the US, and that Zika can trigger paralysis (Guillain-BarrÇ Syndrome). However, mosquito populations
were diminishing. All of these events as well as media-content could impact attitudes and perception. A total of 794 participants participated in an online survey throughout three phases, roughly one month apart. Participants were recruited through the PSU Communication Research Lab using Amazon Mechanical Turk and TurkPrime. Measured EPPM concepts include: perceived severity, susceptibility, self- efficacy, response-efficacy, third-person effects, combined with behavioral intentions. Our study uses perceived knowledge sufficiency and personal concern as moderating variables. 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 phase 1 and 2 in severity and susceptibility; however, perceived severity was consistently high in both groups. We reported a significant difference in knowledge sufficiency between phases 1 and 2, with knowledge sufficiency higher in phase 2. Furthermore, there was no significant difference between sex and severity, both males and females skewed similarly higher on the scale, which is interesting considering the severe effect on pregnant women. Implications for health communication risk communication theorists and pragmatic patient-centered care are provided. The importance of measuring information sufficiency as a moderating variable and premise for basing future studies in emphasized. Methodological limitations, and future research directions are provided.
Kownslar, Karly, "Zika 2016: A 3-Phase Longitudinal Study of the Media Impact on Public Attitudes and Behavioral Response Characteristics" (2017). Paper Presentations. 18.