Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Health Education

First Advisor

Donahoo, Saran

Second Advisor

Wallace, Juliane


The incidence of foodborne illness is extremely costly to the United States. The field of health education is challenged with promoting food safety awareness and education similar to other prevalent heath issues such as infectious diseases. It is important for health educators to develop programs targeted at older adults, as well as the referent individuals in their lives. The purpose of this study was to assess the influences of attitudes, subjective norms, and behavioral intention in regard to older adults’ in-home food safety behaviors. Therefore, only older adults who still prepare and cook their own foods were invited to participate in the study. Participants were conveniently accessed from congregate meal sites throughout the southern six counties in Southern Illinois and asked if they would voluntarily take a self-report survey. The survey was adopted and modified from the Research Triangle Institute. It was modified to include a demographic scale to assess the characteristics of the current sample, and included four subscales: a knowledge scale, an attitudes scale, a subjective norms scale, and a behavioral intention scale. The purpose of the knowledge scale was to understand what food safety knowledge older adults actually possessed. Older adults had limited knowledge about food safety and foodborne illness. Their attitudes towards food safety and foodborne illness were also more negative instead of positive. However, increased knowledge correlated with more positive attitudes. Attitudes did not predict behavioral intention. Higher levels of subjective norms tended to predict increased levels of behavioral intention. It is imperative that health educators create and develop programs that target referent persons involved with older adults. This can be an important factor in increasing older adults’ food safety knowledge, attitudes, and behavioral intention levels.

Available for download on Wednesday, February 23, 2022




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