A Population Health Approach to Examine Ottawa-Gatineau Residents’ Perception of Radon Health Risk

Title: A Population Health Approach to Examine Ottawa-Gatineau Residents’ Perception of Radon Health Risk
Authors: Khan, Selim Muhammad
Date: 2019-08-08
Embargo: 2020-08-08
Abstract: Background: Radon is a high impact environmental pollutant and is the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada. Despite the gravity of the health risk, residents have inadequate awareness and have taken minimum preventive actions. The success of any population-level health awareness program is contingent on the views and actions of key decision makers at the household level. People's perceptions of the risk should inform health communication messaging that aims to motivate them to take preventive measures. The objective of this study was to measure the quantifiable associations and predictions between perceptions of radon health risk and their preventive actions; to explore and examines the social determinants that enable and hinder the adoption of preventive measures. Additionally, the best effective radon control systems for both the new and existing houses and relevant policy implications have been examined. Methods: A mixed methods study consisting of surveys (n=557) and qualitative interviews (n=35) was conducted with both homeowners and tenants of Ottawa-Gatineau areas. Descriptive, correlation and regression analyses addressed the quantitative research questions. Thematic, inductive analysis identified themes in the qualitative data. A mixed methods analysis triangulate both results. A registered systematic review of radon interventions around the world was conducted and radon policy analysis was done by applying interdisciplinary frameworks. Results: Residents’ perceptions of radon health risk, smoking at home, social influence, and care for family significantly correlated with their intention to test for radon; the same variables predicted their protection behaviours. Residents obtained information on radon from the media, individual search, workplace and social networks. Residents who had dual - cognitive and emotional awareness of the risk, were motivated enough to take action. Having an understanding of the risk, caring for family, knowing others who contracted lung cancer and being financially capable were enablers for action. Obstacles included lack of awareness, cost of mitigation, lack of home ownership and potential stigma in selling the house. Residents attributed primary responsibility to public agencies for disseminating information and suggested incentivizing and mandating actions to promote preventive measures. Indoor radon is best controlled by installing an active SSDS with additional measures to seal any entry points in the foundation. The policy analysis generated a list of recommendations that can be implemented through multisectoral systems level actions to address the social determinants of risk distribution. Conclusions: Residents do not get the crucial information on radon health risk and report barriers in testing and engaging in protective action. Risk perceptions are subjective and influenced by micro and macro level factors. Inducing protective action to reduce risk requires comprehensive interventions taking into account dual perceptions of the threat. Future research can explore the dual aspects of risk perception and examine the contents of the risk communication message. Policy should address the shared responsibility of both governments and residents in tackling the issue with reasonable incentives and mandatory regulations.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/39489
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -
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