Does Ethnic Diversity Impact on Risk Perceptions, Preparedness, and Management of Heat Waves?

Maya Siman-Tov, Kirsten Vanderplanken, Debarati Guha-Sapir, Joris A.F. van Loenhout, Bruria Adini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Detrimental health impacts of heatwaves, including excess mortality, are increasing worldwide. To assess risk perceptions, protective knowledge and behaviors concerning heatwaves in Israel, a study was initiated, comparing attitudes of majority (Jewish) and minority (Arab) populations. A quantitative survey was disseminated through an internet panel, to a representative sample of 556 individuals (79% Jews; 21% Arabs). Overall, 74% consider heatwaves a problem, 93% believe that heatwaves' frequencies will increase, 27% are very concerned about the effects of heatwaves. Higher levels of awareness to heatwaves were found among Jewish compared to Arab respondents; 90 vs. 77% (respectively) could name heatwaves' symptoms (p < 0.001); 81 vs. 56% (respectively) reported knowing how to protect themselves (p < 0.001); 74 vs. 47% (respectively) reported knowing what to do when someone suffers from heat stroke (p < 0.001). Arab compared to Jewish respondents presented higher levels of concern about heatwaves' effects (3.22 vs. 3.09 respectively; t −2.25, p = 0.03), while knowledge of protective measures was higher among Jews compared to Arabs (3.67 vs. 3.56 t = 2.13 p = 0.04). A crucial component of enhancing preparedness to heatwaves is empowerment of minority as well as majority groups, to strengthen their capacity to implement protective behavior and elevate their self-belief in their individual ability and fortitude.

Original languageEnglish
Article number642874
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
StatePublished - 2 Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • emergency preparedness
  • ethnic diversity
  • heat waves
  • risk awareness
  • risk perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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