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Revista de Saúde Pública

On-line version ISSN 1518-8787Print version ISSN 0034-8910


LEFEVRE, Fernando; LEFEVRE, Ana Maria Cavalcanti; SCANDAR, Sirle Abdo Salloum  and  YASSUMARO, Sueli. Social representations of the relationships between plant vases and the dengue vector. Rev. Saúde Pública [online]. 2004, vol.38, n.3, pp.405-414. ISSN 1518-8787.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate how houseplant 'caretakers' represent the relationship between plant vases and breeding sites for the dengue vector, in order to reformulate educational policies. METHODS: The present study was carried out among caretakers from three São Paulo State municipalities in which dengue is known to exist and in which extensive educational activities had been previously conducted. Twenty households from each of the municipalities studied were selected based on larval density evaluation bulletins elaborated by SUCEN (Endemic Disease Control Coordination) and classified as positive or negative for the presence of Aedes aegypti larvae in plant vases. The 60 participants were aged 20-65 years and were directly involved in plant care. Interviews were carried out using a semi-structured questionnaire, and recorded in cassette tapes. Data were tabulated using the collective subject discourse technique. RESULTS: Negative representations found included: erroneous information in the population's imaginary universe; disbelief that a 'tiny little mosquito' could cause such extensive problems; belief in the disease only after its concrete manifestation; and mistrust in educational activities in general. Positive representations included: understanding of the basic mechanism of dengue transmission; appreciation of the role and constant presence of sanitary authorities; understanding of their own share of responsibility in fighting the disease. CONCLUSIONS: With respect to vector control activities, the exceedingly synthetic messages emitted by the sanitary authorities prevent the information from being assimilated by the population to the desirable extent. Educational activities must be understood by the population to which they are destined if any behavioral changes are to take place.

Keywords : Health education; Dengue [prevention e control]; Vector control; Insect vectors; Knowledge, attitudes, practice; Aedes; Interviews.

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