Applying a Theory-Based Framework to Understand Public Knowledge of Genetic Risk Factors: A Case for the Distinction between How-To Knowledge and Principles KnowledgeSmerecnik C.M.R. · Mesters I. · de Vries N.K. · de Vries H.
School for Public Health and Primary Care, Department of Health Promotion, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
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Objective: Using E.M. Rogers’s knowledge framework as presented in his seminal innovation-decision process, this paper aims to present an overview of the general public’s knowledge of genetics. It also makes a first attempt to examine the statistical validity of this framework. Methods: A sample of 2,500 members of the Dutch general population was presented with a questionnaire containing measures of 3 increasingly complex forms of knowledge: awareness knowledge, (practical) how-to knowledge and (theoretical) principles knowledge. Results: The general public seems to be moderately aware of genetic risk factors for multifactorial diseases. In general, how-to knowledge seems fair, whereas principles knowledge is limited and superficial. Additional analyses provided empirical evidence for the distinction between awareness knowledge, how-to knowledge and principles knowledge. Conclusion: The innovation-decision process, and specifically Rogers’s knowledge framework, provides a useful tool for public education in genetics. Future research may build upon and extend our findings by examining the persuasion, decision, implementation, and possibly the confirmation stages of the innovation-decision process concerning genetic education.
© 2010 S. Karger AG, Basel
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