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Health Place. 2011 May;17(3):843-50. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2011.03.010. Epub 2011 Apr 13.

Making sense of unfamiliar risks in the countryside: the case of Lyme disease.

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Department of Information Systems and Computing, Brunel University, Kingston Lane, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UK.


The focus of this paper is on how popular representations of the countryside provide countryside users with a discursive framework to make sense of unfamiliar countryside-based risks, taking Lyme disease as an example. Sixty-six semi-structured interviews were conducted with 82 visitors in Richmond Park, New Forest, and Exmoor National Park in the UK. The data were analysed using thematic analysis and was informed by social representations theory. The analysis indicated that a lay understanding of the risk of Lyme disease was filtered by place-attachment and the social representations of the countryside. Lyme disease was not understood primarily as a risk to health, but was instead constructed as a risk to the social and restorative practices in the context of the countryside. The findings suggest that advice about zoonoses such as Lyme disease is unlikely to cause panic, and that it should focus on the least intrusive preventative measures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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