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Health Beliefs, Health Behavioral Intentions, and Lead Contamination Threats in Mining-Impacted Communities

Authors: Courtney Cooper*, University of Idaho
Topics: Environmental Perception, Behavioral Geography
Keywords: health beliefs, health behavioral intention, mining-impacted communities, risk communication
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: Download

Effective risk communication can reduce the human health impacts of lead contamination in mining-impacted communities. Understanding the strength of associations between health beliefs and health behavioral intention (actions intended to reduce exposures) can assist public health officials in determining appropriate communication strategies. We used the Health Belief Model to construct a survey about health beliefs, health behavioral intentions, and awareness of lead contamination that was distributed in communities within Idaho’s Silver Valley (n = 306). The study area is known for both its natural beauty and rich mining history and at the same time is affected by heavy metal contamination and is the site of an extensive and complex Superfund clean-up. We hypothesized that if an individual perceives a health threat from lead contamination and they perceive low barriers and high benefits to action they are more likely to practice health-protective behaviors. We used a multilevel structural equation model to explore associations between the health belief constructs and health behavioral intention. Results indicate that health beliefs are only moderate predictors of health behavioral intention. Perceived benefits and perceived severity were the strongest indicators of health behavioral intention while perceived susceptibility and self-efficacy had weak associations with behavioral intention. The study provide insight into the associations between health beliefs and health behavioral intentions that are applicable for developing health risk communication strategies within communities that continue to experience long-term, lead contamination threats.

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