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Risk assessment and perception

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Injury prevention efforts often focus on reducing the risk of potentially dangerous activities, facilities or equipment, such as diving, swimming pools or flotation devices. This paper aims to clarify the concepts of risk assessment and risk perception. Statistically, risk denotes the probability of an untoward event, often expressed in terms of potential financial loss. Subjectively, though, risk denotes an individual's perception of the likelihood and the seriousness of an undesirable event. Individual perception appears to be strongly influenced by personal traits and socio-cultural parameters. Risk assessment helps to form the basis for public health interventions. The implementation and effectiveness of these are influenced by individual risk perception. Therefore, preventive efforts need to incorporate and hopefully influence the determinants of risk perception among the target populations. Considering drowning, both hazard and incidence of submersion injuries are underestimated, whereas treatment options are usually overestimated. Consequently, individual risk alertness needs to be improved – drowning remains a ubiquitous risk.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2003


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