Avian Influenza 2006 and 2016: are there differences in risk perception and intention?


  • N. Lages
  • J. Kollmann
  • L.J. Debbeler
  • B. Renner


Background: In 2016, the cases of Avian Influenza across Europe and Germany increased to such an extent that it was the most important outbreak after the peak in 2006. This raises the questions (1) how the outbreaks in 2006 and in 2016 differed in progression and information given by the health institutes, (2) whether the associated risk perception and intention for preventive behavior change differed between 2006 and 2016. Methods: Two online surveys were conducted in 2006 (N = 421) and 2016 (N = 358) respectively, assessing both risk perception and intention for behavior change (e.g. becoming vegetarian, to get vaccinated). Findings: In 2006, there were 115 documented cases of Avian Influenza, 79 people died worldwide. In 2016, not a single documented case of an affected human occurred. Conversely, risk perception was higher in 2016 as compared to 2006 (t (777) = -2.24, p = .025, d = .16). Intention did not differ between surveys (t (777) = -0.88, p = .380, d = .06). Discussion: Although in 2016 the outbreak did not reach the severity of the 2006 outbreak, people had higher risk perception in 2016. This might suggest that public risk perceptions are less responsive to the actual danger and spread of the disease than to a more general ‘feeling of risk’. Implications for assessment of perceived risk and public preventive measures will be discussed.





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