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Attitudes and Perceptions of Urban African Americans of a “Dirty Bomb” Radiological Terror Event: Results of a Qualitative Study and Implications for Effective Risk Communication

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 January 2015

Sarah Bauerle Bass
Affiliation:
Department of Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Judith R. Greener
Affiliation:
Department of Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Dominique Ruggieri
Affiliation:
Department of Health Services, St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Claudia Parvanta
Affiliation:
Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences, University of the Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Gabriella Mora
Affiliation:
Department of Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Caitlin Wolak
Affiliation:
Department of Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Rebecca Normile
Affiliation:
Department of Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Thomas F. Gordon
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Lowell, Massachusetts.
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Objectives

Radiological terror presents a real threat, but little is known about how low-income, urban African Americans may respond to such threats. The aim of this study was to understand the unique challenges of this group and to explore their knowledge of what a “dirty bomb” is, their intended behaviors should one occur, and their barriers to complying with “shelter in place” recommendations.

Methods

Thirty-seven 18-65-year-olds who were users of community centers in disadvantaged areas participated in 3 focus groups in Philadelphia. Results were analyzed by using the Krueger method of analyzing narrative text.

Results

The responses highlighted little knowledge or concern about a dirty bomb. Lack of trust in local authorities was expressed, with participants indicating that they did not feel their needs were addressed. While shelter in place was understood, most said they would still check on family or talk with others to get the “whole truth” because the most trusted information sources were neighbors and community leaders.

Conclusion

Our results indicate that a risk communication intervention for urban minorities may support desirable behaviors in the event of a dirty bomb, but successful communication will require establishing a local leader as a spokesperson to convince people of the importance of sheltering in place.(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2015;0:1-10)

Type
Original Research
Copyright
Copyright © Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc. 2015 

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