Knowledge and risk perceptions of the Ebola virus in the United States

Prev Med Rep. 2015 Apr 16;2:262-4. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2015.04.005. eCollection 2015.

Abstract

Objectives: The Ebola epidemic has received extensive media coverage since the first diagnosed cases of the virus in the US. We investigated risk perceptions of Ebola among individuals living in the US and measured their knowledge of the virus.

Method: US residents completed an online survey (conducted 14-18 November 2014) that assessed their Ebola knowledge and risk perceptions.

Results: Respondents who were more knowledgeable of Ebola perceived less risk of contracting the virus and were less worried about the virus, but also regarded Ebola as more serious than less knowledgeable respondents. The internet served as a major source of additional information among knowledgeable respondents.

Conclusion: The findings suggest that the provision of health information about Ebola may be effective in informing the public about Ebola risks and of preventive measures without curtailing the seriousness of the virus. Policymakers may seek to further exploit the internet as a means of delivering information about Ebola in the US and worldwide.

Keywords: Attitudes; Disease outbreaks; Ebola virus; Health knowledge; Health risk appraisal; Practice.