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Risk Anal. 2016 May;36(5):874-91. doi: 10.1111/risa.12501. Epub 2015 Sep 21.

Dengue Disease Risk Mental Models in the City of Dhaka, Bangladesh: Juxtapositions and Gaps Between the Public and Experts.

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Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, R3T 2N2.
National Microbiology Laboratory, Public Health Agency of Canada, Winnipeg, Canada, R3E 3R2.
Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada, R3E 0W3.


Worldwide, more than 50 million cases of dengue fever are reported every year in at least 124 countries, and it is estimated that approximately 2.5 billion people are at risk for dengue infection. In Bangladesh, the recurrence of dengue has become a growing public health threat. Notably, knowledge and perceptions of dengue disease risk, particularly among the public, are not well understood. Recognizing the importance of assessing risk perception, we adopted a comparative approach to examine a generic methodology to assess diverse sets of beliefs related to dengue disease risk. Our study mapped existing knowledge structures regarding the risk associated with dengue virus, its vector (Aedes mosquitoes), water container use, and human activities in the city of Dhaka, Bangladesh. "Public mental models" were developed from interviews and focus group discussions with diverse community groups; "expert mental models" were formulated based on open-ended discussions with experts in the pertinent fields. A comparative assessment of the public's and experts' knowledge and perception of dengue disease risk has revealed significant gaps in the perception of: (a) disease risk indicators and measurements; (b) disease severity; (c) control of disease spread; and (d) the institutions responsible for intervention. This assessment further identifies misconceptions in public perception regarding: (a) causes of dengue disease; (b) dengue disease symptoms; (c) dengue disease severity; (d) dengue vector ecology; and (e) dengue disease transmission. Based on these results, recommendations are put forward for improving communication of dengue risk and practicing local community engagement and knowledge enhancement in Bangladesh.


Aedes mosquitoes; dengue; infectious disease; mental map; public health; risk perception

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