Date of Award

Spring 2006

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Griffin, Robert

Second Advisor

Ksobiech, Ken

Third Advisor

Koening, Lisa

Abstract

Dental patients may perceive having a dental x-ray exam as a risk to their health. While it is not disputable that x-radiation is harmful to living tissue and can be considered a risk to one's health, risks are often accompanied by benefits. For many, the benefits of dental x-rays outweigh the risks of radiation. This study examines individuals' perception of radiation safety of dental x-rays in relation to an individual asking about such risk. What prompted the study is that some dental patients ask about their safety when having dental x-rays taken. Some of the questions are asked jokingly, "Am I going to glow after this?'' Some are more serious, "How much radiation is my thyroid being exposed to?" Although dental health professionals may know the radiation dose and health risks of dental x-rays, many struggle to respond satisfactorily to patient concerns of radiation risk. In studying the factors that motivate people to actively seek and process information about radiation safety, we can better understand how to answer the kinds of questions patients ask about the risks of radiation. This study will use Griffin, Dunwoody, and Neuwirth's (1999) model of Risk Information Seeking and Processing (RISP) to examine how perceived hazard characteristics, perceived information gathering capacity, information sufficiency, and relevant channel beliefs may affect information seeking and processing. This theoretical framework may help researchers understand the different ways in which individuals might seek information on the subject of radiation risks and what types of questions individuals might ask about radiation risk.

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