Chronic wasting disease as a model for the development of risk communication using the mental models approach

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Almond, Ann
Major Professor
Robert W. Klaver
Clark Wolf
Committee Member
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Natural Resource Ecology and Management
The Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management is dedicated to the understanding, effective management, and sustainable use of our renewable natural resources through the land-grant missions of teaching, research, and extension.
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Using chronic wasting disease (CWD) as a model for risk communication development using the mental models approach, this dissertation examines: 1) how published CWD risk communications compare to expert recommendations; 2) whether the experts and members of relevant stakeholder groups agree upon the information that should be included in these communications; and 3) what lessons we can learn from including previously unstudied stakeholder groups in this research. We developed a theoretical expert model based upon an extensive review of the CWD literature and convened a CWD expert workshop to develop an actual expert model. We compared these models to selected CWD risk communications from both states with, and without, CWD. We administered surveys to and conducted interviews with STEM graduate students and farmers and rural landowners in North-Central Iowa to ascertain their knowledge and perspectives on CWD. Contrary to expectations, there was widespread dissimilarity between the two expert models, even though some of the reviewed literature for the theoretical model was authored by the convened experts. Also, the absence or presence of CWD in a jurisdiction seemed to have little bearing on the quality of CWD risk communications. We anticipated between-group differences in stakeholder perspectives, but were surprised by the starkness of these differences and that these differences were found regardless of which stakeholder group the participant was affiliated with so long as he or she was a hunter or regular venison consumer. Our results suggest that a centralized authority for public health related CWD risk communications might be appropriate and that future research could focus on including larger numbers of stakeholders and other previously unstudied, but relevant, stakeholder groups.

Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2017