Florida red tide knowledge and risk perception: Is there a need for tailored messaging

Barbara Kirkpatrick, Kate Kohler, Margaret M. Byrne, Jamie Studts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Harmful algal blooms of the toxic dinoflagellate, Karenia brevis, occur throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Recent research efforts sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and others found that Florida red tide causes both acute and possibly chronic health effects from the toxic aerosols. Florida red tide also demonstrated significant social and economic impacts to both coastal residents and visitors. In conjunction with the research, persistent outreach efforts were conducted over the 11-year period. The goal of this project was to assess potential needs for tailored messaging needed among different red tide information user groups. Survey participants included 303 local residents, both with asthma and without, and 'snowbirds (seasonal residents that reside in the Sarasota area for more than 3 months but less than 6 months/year), also both with asthma and without. The questionnaire assessed Florida red tide knowledge and risk perception regarding Florida red tide using items drawn from two previously published surveys to allow comparison. Our results reveal that overall knowledge of Florida red tide has not changed. We found that knowledge was consistent across our selected groups and also did not vary by age, gender and education level. However, knowledge regarding consumption of seafood during Florida red tide has declined. Risk perception increased significantly for people who have asthma. Individuals responsible for public health communication regarding Florida red tide and human health concerns need to continue to pursue more effective outreach messages and delivery methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-32
Number of pages6
JournalHarmful Algae
StatePublished - Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Florida red tide
  • Harmful algal blooms
  • K. brevis
  • Karenia brevis
  • Messaging
  • Outreach

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science


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