Using data from the University of New Hampshire’s October 2016 Granite State Poll, authors Thomas Safford, Lawrence Hamilton, and Emily Whitmore investigate how New Hampshire residents view the Zika crisis. They report that most New Hampshire residents believe Zika is only a minor threat to public health in the United States, and they generally trust the CDC as a source of information about the virus. The data also show that, while there is doubt about the government’s ability to control the spread of the virus, the public feels that emergency federal funding to combat Zika should be a priority. They discuss that many Granite Staters have real concerns about the practice of science, believing scientists change their findings to get the answers they want. More importantly, individuals who questioned the integrity of scientists are less likely to believe Zika is a threat, have confidence in the government’s ability to combat the virus, trust the CDC, and to prioritize emergency funding. They conclude that these results suggest that health officials working to engage the public in efforts to control the spread of Zika must not only discuss risks associated with the virus and mechanisms of transmission, but also confront science skepticism and potential concerns about the integrity of the scientists gathering data related to Zika and other infectious diseases.
Regional Issue Brief No. 49
Durham, N.H. : Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire
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