Send to

Choose Destination
J Water Health. 2015 Sep;13(3):671-9. doi: 10.2166/wh.2015.171.

Social representations of drinking water: subsidies for water quality surveillance programmes.

Author information

Escola de Saúde Pública do Estado de Minas Gerais, Avenida Augusto de Lima, 2061 Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Departamento de Veterinária, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Avenida Peter Henry Rolfs, s/n. Campus Universitário, Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brazil E-mail:
Departamento de Educação, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brazil.


A qualitative study was developed aimed at understanding the social representations of water consumption by a segment of the population of a small town in Brazil. A total of 19 semi-structured interviews were carried out and subjected to a content analysis addressing opinion on drinking water, characteristics of drinking water and its correlation to health and diseases, criteria for water usage and knowledge on the source and accountability for drinking-water quality. Social representations of drinking water predominantly incorporate the municipal water supply and sanitation provider and its quality. The identification of the municipal water supply provider as alone responsible for maintaining water quality indicated the lack of awareness of any health surveillance programme. For respondents, chlorine was accountable for conferring colour, odour and taste to the water. These physical parameters were reported as the cause for rejecting the water supplied and suggest the need to review the focus of health-educational strategies based on notions of hygiene and water-borne diseases. The study allowed the identification of elements that could contribute to positioning the consumers vs. services relationship on a level playing field, enabling dialogue and exchange of knowledge for the benefit of public health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center