Natural Resources, School of


First Advisor

Larkin A. Powell

Second Advisor

Elizabeth VanWormer

Date of this Version


Document Type



Cristiano, D. J. (2022). An Investigation of the Attitudes and Behavioral Outcomes of Nebraskan Hunters Toward Tick-Borne Disease. M.S. Thesis, Univ. Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Natural Resource Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professors Larkin A. Powell and Elizabeth VanWormer. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2022

Copyright © 2022 Dominic Joseph Cristiano


As changes in climate, land-use, and vegetation alter the landscape of the Great Plains, new threats to public health are emerging. Incidences of tick-borne disease in Nebraska have increased nearly 250% over the past two decades – newly established species like Ixodes scapularis may introduce challenges for health practitioners, including more cases of Lyme disease. Strategies for tick-borne disease prevention must incorporate effective health messaging. Audience segmentation may be a useful technique to provide health communication, as it allows for targeted messaging that speaks to specific attitudes and beliefs of a given population. One tool for usefully segmenting populations is the Risk Perception Attitude Framework (RPAF) – this groups individuals into four categories based on their perceived risk towards a threat and their efficacy in protecting themselves from the threat. We applied the RPAF to a sample of hunters in Nebraska to assess differences in level of intention to perform preventive behaviors between the four RPAF groups. Our ANOVA model provides evidence for significantly higher behavior intent among individuals in the RPAF group with highest perceived risk and self-efficacy, supporting previous RPAF literature. This information can be used to identify clusters of individuals with similar beliefs towards tick-borne disease and provide more effective health messaging about this threat.

Advisors: Larkin A. Powell, Elizabeth Van Wormer