Behavioral adjustment to avian flu in Europe during spring 2006: The roles of knowledge and proximity to risk
The threat of a widespread avian flu influenza outbreak represented a significant public health challenge for the European region during late 2005 and early 2006. Little is known, however, about how individuals learn about new global-level health risks, especially influenza outbreaks. We empirically test the hypothesis that knowledge about and geographic proximity to avian flu play a role in individuals’ consumption behavior regarding this health risk. This article employs Eurobarometer survey data collected in spring 2006 to examine how Europeans (from 27 European Union countries plus Croatia and Turkey) altered their consumption of poultry, eggs and egg-based products during the virus’ emergence in Europe. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that behavioral change indeed depends on proximity to those risks. Significant differences emerged between individuals’ likelihood of behavioral change in countries where avian flu had been found in humans either in individuals’ countries of residence or in bordering countries. Furthermore, we find that those who were more knowledgeable about avian flu risks were less likely to have reduced their consumption of poultry, eggs or egg-related products in the spring of 2006 compared to six months prior. Yet, the influence knowledge has on consumption behavior is found to change depending on proximity to avian flu risks. These findings have implications for our larger understanding of how individuals alter their behavior in the face of new health risks.
Volume (Year): 75 (2012)
Issue (Month): 8 ()
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