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Knowing your audience: a typology of smoke sense participants to inform wildfire smoke health risk communication

Author(s): Mary Clare Hano, Steven E. Prince, Linda Wei, Bryan Hubbell, Ana G. Rappold
Year Published: 2020

Central to public health risk communication is understanding the perspectives and shared values among individuals who need the information. Using the responses from a Smoke Sense citizen science project, we examined perspectives on the issue of wildfire smoke as a health risk in relation to an individual's preparedness to adopt recommended health behaviors. The Smoke Sense smartphone application provides wildfire-related health risk resources and invites participants to record their perspectives on the issue of wildfire smoke. Within the app, participants can explore current and forecasted daily air quality, maps of fire locations, satellite images of smoke plumes, and learn about health consequences of wildfire smoke. We used cluster analysis to identify perspective trait-clusters based on health status, experience with fire smoke, risk perception, self-efficacy, access to exposure-reducing resources, health information needs, and openness to health risk messaging. Differences between traits were examined based on demographics, health status, activity level and engagement with the app. We mapped these traits to the Precaution Adoption Process Model (PAPM) to indicate where each trait lies in adopting recommended health behaviors. Finally, we suggest messaging strategies that may be suitable for each trait. We determined five distinct perspective traits which included individuals who were Protectors and have decided to engage on the issue by adopting new behaviors to protect their health; Cautious, Proactive, and Susceptible individuals who were at a Deciding stage but differed based on risk perceptions and information needs; and the Unengaged who did not perceive smoke as a health issue and were unlikely to change behavior in response to messaging. Across all five traits, the level of engagement and information needs differed substantially, but were not defined by demographics. Individuals in the Susceptible trait had the highest level of engagement and the highest information needs. Messaging that emphasizes self-efficacy and benefits of reducing exposure may be effective in motivating individuals from the deciding stage to taking health protective action. Shared perspectives define an individual's propensity for acting on recommended health behaviors, therefore, health risk message content should be tailored based on these perspectives.

Citation: Hano, Mary Clare; Prince, Steven E.; Wei, Linda; Hubbell, Bryan J.; Rappold, Ana G. 2020. Knowing your audience: a typology of smoke sense participants to inform wildfire smoke health risk communication. Frontiers in Public Health 8:143. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2020.00143
Topic(s): Smoke & Air Quality, Smoke & Populations
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Hot Topic(s):
NRFSN number: 21284
FRAMES RCS number: 61167
Record updated: Jun 1, 2020