Health Risk Perception for Household Trips and Associated Protection Behavior During an Influenza Outbreak


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Virginia Tech


This project deals with exploring 1) travel-related health risk perception, and 2) actions taken to mitigate that health risk. Ordered logistic regression models were used to identify factors associated with the perceived risk of contracting influenza at work, school, daycare, stores, restaurants, libraries, hospitals, doctor’s offices, public transportation, and family or friends’ homes. Based on the models, factors influencing risk perception of contracting influenza in public places for discretionary activities (stores, restaurants, and libraries) are consistent but differ from models of discretionary social visits to someone’s home. Mandatory activities (work, school, daycare) seem to have a few unique factors (e.g., age, gender, work exposure), as do different types of health-related visits (hospitals, doctors’ offices). Across all of the models, recent experience with the virus, of either an individual or a household member, was the most consistent set of factors increasing risk perception. Using such factors in examining transportation implications will require tracking virus outbreaks for use in conjunction with other factors.

Subsequently, social-health risk mitigation strategies were studied with the objective of understanding how risk perception influences an individual’s protective behavior. For this objective, this study analyzes travel-actions associated with two scenarios during an outbreak of influenza: 1) A sick person avoiding spreading the disease and 2) A healthy person avoiding getting in contact with the disease. Ordered logistic regression models were used to identify factors associated with mitigation behavior in the first scenario: visiting a doctor’s office, avoiding public places, avoiding public transit, staying at home; and in the second scenario: avoiding public places, avoiding public transit, staying at home. Based on the models for Scenario 1, the factors affecting the decision of avoiding public places, avoiding public transit, and staying at home were fairly consistent but differ for visiting a doctor’s office. However, Scenario 2 models were consistent with their counterpart mitigation models in Scenario 1 except for two factors: gender and household characteristics. Across all the models from Scenario 1, gender was the most significant factor, and for Scenario 2, the most significant factor was the ratio of household income to the household size.



Ordered Logit Models, Ordered logistic regression, Household Trips, Influenza, Health Risk, Risk Perception, Risk Mitigation