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Description  |  Agenda  |  Participants & Presentations

Spatial Analysis of Health Risk Perception
Upham Hotel, Santa Barbara, CA
October 10-11, 2003

Barbara Herr Harthorn (Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research), Laury Oaks (Women's Studies), and Susan Stonich (Anthropology and Environmental Studies)

This specialist research meeting will convene an interdisciplinary group of about 15 behavioral science and health researchers whose work has centered on the areas of social risk theory, cultural constructions of health and risk, and spatial analysis of health. The purpose of the meeting will be to explore common grounds for new interdisciplinary research proposals that bring together spatial analysis with work looking at perception of health risk. People's perceptions of health risks are much more consistently associated with their behavior than are the epidemiological distribution of risk factors in populations or experts' judgments and communications about risk and risk factors. Judgments about risk acceptability have also assumed a central position in the current global geopolitical environment (e.g., in relation to food safety, location of infrastructure systems, migration and immigration, infectious diseases, and worker safety, to name only a few). Spatial analysis of health risk perception offers the possibility of helping to resolve paradoxical aspects of the social amplification of risk as well as processes of optimistic bias associated with risky behaviors, yet it is a largely unexplored arena. The format of this Research Specialist Meeting will be a 2-day meeting that alternates formal presentations with extensive discussion. Possible outcomes include networking that may lead to new collaborative research proposals to the NSF (e.g., under the new Spatial Social Science initiative) and the NIH (where the poor response of the lay public to conventional risk communication continues to be one of the most serious problems), a larger, international research conference and resultant publication(s), and dissemination of spatial analysis tools through CSISS.


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