Journal Article

The Social Context of Responses to Lead Contamination in an Australian Community: Implications for Health Promotion

Tara K. McGee

in Health Promotion International

Volume 13, issue 4, pages 297-306
Published in print January 1998 | ISSN: 0957-4824
Published online January 1998 | e-ISSN: 1460-2245 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/heapro/13.4.297
The Social Context of Responses to Lead Contamination in an Australian Community: Implications for Health Promotion

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This paper illustrates how an understanding of the social context of responses to health hazards assists in the development of health promotion strategies. In early 1992, chronic environmental lead contamination became a public issue in Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia. This paper is based on a study completed between May 1992 and December 1995, which set out to explore the nature of social responses to this environmental health hazard Fieldwork conducted over 9 months during six visits to Broken Hill included the use of participant observation and in-depth interviews with residents and representatives of organisations. Residents' coping responses included thoughts and feelings about the significance and acceptability of the threat, and assignment of responsibility. Active responses included obtaining information about the hazard and exposure reduction, and using health interventions. Responses were found to be significantly affected by aspects of the social setting, including: stigma; individual and community economic factors; social support and undermining; social influence; and cultural assumptions, beliefs and values. I conclude that an understanding of social responses to health hazards, including factors underlying responses, provides an important basis for the development of appropriate and effective health promotion strategies.

Keywords: community responses; lead contamination; social setting

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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