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Qualitative research about public health risk perceptions on ambient air pollution. A review study.

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

Understanding public health risk perceptions is essential in efficient environmental health management. In the light of the negative impact of air pollution on health and the direct and indirect mediation of this impact through risk perceptions, it is crucial to better understand the lay perceptions of air pollution. Since qualitative research methods are well suited for this aim, the central objective of this study is to present a review of qualitative research articles in the field of environmental epidemiology that investigate health risk perceptions of ambient air pollution since the 2000s.

We followed the PRISMA-guidelines which resulted in a selection of 20 scientific articles published in peer-reviewed academic journals that used qualitative research methods and reported on health risk perceptions about ambient air pollution.

Qualitative research in the field of environmental epidemiology is still scarce. Most of the studies included in the review were based on face-to-face interviews and focus group discussions; a minority used a mixed-method approach. Interesting contributions were made with respect to both the perception of exposure to air pollution and the perception of the health effect associated with air pollution.

The review suggests that data generated through qualitative research might complement the traditionally quantitative field of environmental epidemiology. Mixed method multidisciplinary research is likely to provide a more holistic explanation of environmental health patterns observed through quantitative research. These explanations are key in managing environmental health and in developing successful prevention, mitigation and communication strategies. Implementing qualitative research methods contribute to the field of environmental epidemiology as it i) allows for triangulation of findings; ii) generates nuanced findings and new research questions; iii) triggers in-depth understandings of quantitatively identified patterns; iv) leads to additional surprising and/or multifaceted responses; v) enhances relationships between researcher and respondent; vi) increases the awareness of important context-dependent dynamics or interactions that may generate biases and vii) grasps the local, contextual, situational and cultural elements that interact with health risk perceptions.
Tijdschrift: SSM - Population Health
Volume: 15
Pagina's: 1-13
Aantal pagina's: 13
Jaar van publicatie:2021
Trefwoorden:Literature review, Qualitative research methods, Ambient air pollution, Health risk perceptions, Environmental epidemiology