Tick-Borne Disease Prevention Behaviors Among Participants in a Tick Surveillance System Compared with a Sample Of Master Gardeners

Document Type


Date of Original Version



Theory-based approaches to health communication and behavior are increasingly applied to interventions that address poor public tick-borne disease prevention knowledge and practices. We sought to understand the tick-borne disease prevention behaviors among participants in a crowdsourced passive tick surveillance system that employs theory-based messages about tick bite risk and prevention strategies. We administered an electronic survey to a randomly selected sample of passive surveillance system users and compared their responses to those from a nationwide sample of Master Gardeners (MG), a group with heighten tick exposure due to outdoor activity. Over 80% of TickSpotters respondents, and over 75% of MG respondents encountered a tick in the past year. Among both groups, tick checks were the most frequently practiced prevention behavior, with over 70% of people performing them most or all the time after outdoor activity. A greater proportion of MGs used skin repellents such as DEET or picaridin than TickSpotters users, but more than 70% of respondents from both groups reported that they never or only sometimes use permethrin-treatment on clothing, and nearly half of both groups reportedly used no peridomestic tick treatments. TickSpotters respondents overwhelmingly reported recording tick encounter information and saving specimens for identification and testing, while only a small percentage of MGs monitored their tick encounters. These findings suggest that while both TickSpotters and MG groups appear to be practicing some important tick bite prevention behaviors, there remain areas that could benefit from targeted theory-based interventional approaches.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Community Health