Journal of the Department of Behavioural Sciences
Vol. 2, (1), December 2012
A qualitative analysis: using the Health Belief Model to explain Dengue fever in two communities in Trinidad and Tobago
Valentine Smith

The prevention of dengue fever in Trinidad and Tobago is highly dependent on the sustained effectiveness of the Aedes aegypti mosquito prevention programme. The Health Belief Model (HBM) framework was used to explore the public's perceptions of the dengue fever prevention programme in Trinidad and Tobago. It further focused on persuading people to acknowledge their susceptibility to dengue fever and the benefits of undertaking mosquito control while storing water for domestic use.

Focus group discussions, in-depth interviews informal interviews, and non-participant observation were conducted with female and male members of Malick and Upper Malick communities. Content analysis was used to identify meaning units that were condensed, coded and assigned to pre-determined elements of the Health Belief Model (HBM).

Awareness of dengue fever and Aedes aegypti was high but the illness was not high on the priority listing. Respondents perceived the problem of increases in mosquito population as a Government problem and not a household problem. Their perception of the Aedes aegypti control programme was low in significance in both communities. In general, members of both communities had the knowledge of dengue fever and the Aedes aegypti mosquito but the knowledge was not linked to any significant behavior change.

The identification of barriers prevailed over the benefits of mosquito control practices. The development of health education intervention should consider the socio-cultural environment in which control practices are encouraged.