Date of Award

5-1-2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Health Education

First Advisor

Ratnapradipa, Dhitinut

Abstract

AN ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION OF Wendi Krista Middleton, for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Health Education, presented on April 15, 2015 at Southern Illinois University Carbondale TITLE: TICK-BORNE DISEASES: ASSESSING THE KNOWLEDGE, ATTITUDES, AND BEHAVIORS OF COLLEGE STUDENTS. MAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. Dhitinut Ratnapradipa Within the last few decades, the prevalence of tick-borne diseases (TBDs) has dramatically increased. Symptoms of TBDs are very similar to other illnesses and are often referred to as flu-like in nature. TBDs could be easily prevented, however, if people used proper prevention methods. If not treated early in the course of illness, tick-borne infections have the potential to cause serious health problems and even death. It is, therefore, extremely important that individuals use proper prevention strategies in order to reduce the risk of contracting TBDs. This research focused on the college population because these individuals represent one of the most active adult outdoor populations. While many students know that ticks carry diseases, it is thought that they have a poor understanding of the extent to which TBDs affect human health. Additionally, many experts believe that knowledge of health-related topics plays a major role in determining how individuals behave in regard to those concerns. Furthermore, a person's behavior strongly influences their risk of contracting a TBD. Information collected allowed for determining whether or not a person's knowledge and perceptions of tick-borne diseases have an influence on their prevention practices. As expected there was a lack of knowledge regarding tick-borne diseases. College students who volunteered to participate in this study indicated that they are unaware of the proper methods to use in order to prevent contracting TBDs. Thus, it was not surprising that they do not utilize correct prevention strategies. Additionally these students stated that more information about TBDs should be added to the curricula in college health courses. This research aimed to improve the psychometric properties of a newly created survey and assess college students' knowledge, attitudes, and associated behaviors regarding TBDs. Discovering the current knowledge of college students regarding TBDs has helped researchers in determining the effect that individual knowledge of TBDs has on a person's attitudes, and behaviors regarding prevention.

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