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      Expanding protection motivation theory: investigating an application to animal owners and emergency responders in bushfire emergencies


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          Protection Motivation Theory (PMT) was developed by Rogers in 1975, to describe how individuals are motivated to react in a self-protective way towards a perceived health threat. Rogers expected the use of PMT to diversify over time, which has proved true over four decades. The purpose of this paper is to explore how PMT can be used and expanded to inform and improve public safety strategies in natural hazards. As global climate change impacts on the Australian environment, natural hazards seem to be increasing in scale and frequency, and Emergency Services’ public education campaigns have necessarily escalated to keep pace with perceived public threat. Of concern, is that the awareness-preparedness gap in residents’ survival plans is narrowing disproportionately slowly compared to the magnitude of resources applied to rectify this trend. Practical applications of adaptable social theory could be used to help resolve this dilemma.


          PMT has been used to describe human behaviour in individuals, families, and the parent-child unit. It has been applied to floods in Europe and wildfire and earthquake in the United States. This paper seeks to determine if an application of PMT can be useful for achieving other-directed human protection across a novel demographic spectrum in natural hazards, specifically, animal owners and emergency responders in bushfire emergencies.

          These groups could benefit from such an approach: owners to build and fortify their response- and self-efficacy, and to help translate knowledge into safer behaviour, and responders to gain a better understanding of a diverse demographic with animal ownership as its common denominator, and with whom they will be likely to engage in contemporary natural hazard management. Mutual collaboration between these groups could lead to a synergy of reciprocated response efficacy, and safer, less traumatic outcomes.


          Emergency services’ community education programs have made significant progress over the last decade, but public safety remains suboptimal while the magnitude of the awareness-preparedness gap persists. This paper examines an expanded, other-directed application of PMT to expand and enhance safer mitigation and response behaviour strategies for communities threatened by bushfire, which may ultimately help save human life.

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          Most cited references73

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                Author and article information

                BMC Psychol
                BMC Psychol
                BMC Psychology
                BioMed Central (London )
                26 April 2017
                26 April 2017
                : 5
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1936 834X, GRID grid.1013.3, Centre for Health Research, School of Medicine, , Western Sydney University, ; Campbelltown Sydney, Australia
                [2 ]GRID grid.468519.7, , Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre, ; Melbourne, Australia
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2193 0854, GRID grid.1023.0, Clinical Psychology, School of Health, , Medical and Applied Sciences Central Queensland University, ; Rockhampton, QLD Australia
                [4 ]ISNI 0000000089150953, GRID grid.1024.7, School of Public Health and Social Work, , Queensland University of Technology, ; Victoria Park Road, Kelvin Grove, QLD Australia
                [5 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2158 5405, GRID grid.1004.5, Department of Psychology, , Macquarie University, ; Sydney, Australia
                © The Author(s). 2017

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Funded by: Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre
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                © The Author(s) 2017

                protection motivation theory,animals,animal owners,emergency responders,bushfire,wildfire,natural hazards,preparedness


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