Date of Award


Document Type



Environmental and Forest Biology

Thesis Advisor

Elizabeth Folta


The knowledge gap hypothesis, developed in 1970 by Tichenor and colleagues, proposed that socioeconomic status, measured by education, was the prominent cause of knowledge gaps. However, since then many studies have found evidence suggesting factors on many scales from macro-level, such as community conflict to micro-level, such as individual interest and life situation, that impact the knowledge gap despite socioeconomic status. Knowledge gaps pertaining to public health are a threat to the health of both communities and individuals. To investigate a potential public health knowledge gap a convenience sample of an upstate New York population was used to investigate the differences between the knowledge of two different vector transmitted diseases, West Nile virus and tick borne diseases, and how the number of media sources may have influenced that knowledge. A survey was created with several sections pertaining to demographics, media source, and knowledge of the diseases. The results show that there is a statistically significant difference between the scores on the tick borne disease section and West Nile virus section with the higher score being on the tick borne section. There is evidence that suggests that demographic factors such as age, education and income, but not the number of sources, influenced the knowledge gap.

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