Factors that influence environmental health literacy from returning polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure results


Authors: Kylie W Riley, Kimberly Burke, Anabel Cole, Maricela Ureno, Holly M Dixon, Lehyla Calero, Lisa M Bramer, Katrina M Waters, Kim A Anderson, Julie B Herbstman, and Diana Rohlman
Page Range: 317-331
Published in: International Public Health Journal, 15#3 (2023)
ISSN: 1947-4989

Table of Contents


Reporting personal environmental exposure data back from researchers to study participants is becoming more common, however there are few tools to assess whether report back increases environmental health literacy (EHL). This study assessed whether sociodemographic or environ-mental characteristics were associated with changes in EHL after receiving personal air monitoring results. This study was conducted in a New York City based pregnancy cohort wherein participants were assessed for exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons during the third trimester of pregnancy. Participants (n = 168) received their results two to five years after participation and a subset (n = 47) completed a survey evaluating perspectives on their results and subsequent behaviors. Using these results, we created a quantitative scale of EHL, with higher scores indicative of higher EHL. We found that participants with a college degree were significantly more likely to be surprised by their results than those with less than a high school degree (OR = 5.60, p ≤ 0.05) and that higher naphthalene levels were associated with decreased odds of being surprised about receiving the results (OR = 0.37, p = 0.02). There were no observed associations between demographic or exposure characteristics and our dichotomous EHL indicator; however, those with more education and higher income tended to have higher EHL scores. Additionally, participants who reported being surprised by or glad to receive their results had higher EHL scores. Open-ended text responses indicated that while some participants felt worried after receiving their results, participants reported being glad to have received the report.

Keywords: Children, environmental health, pregnancy, report back, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, United States

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