Utilizing qualitative methods in survey design: examining Texas cattle producers' intent to participate in foot-and-mouth disease detection and control.
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The effective control of an outbreak of a highly contagious disease such as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the United States will require a strong partnership between the animal agriculture industry and the government. However, because of the diverse number of economic, social, and psychological influences affecting livestock producers, their complete cooperation during an outbreak may not be assured. We conducted interviews with 40 individuals involved in the Texas cattle industry in order to identify specific behaviors where producer participation or compliance may be reduced. Through qualitative analysis of these interviews, we identified specific factors which the participants suggested would influence producer behavior in regard to FMD detection and control. Using the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) as an initial guide, we developed an expanded theoretical framework in order to allow for the development of a questionnaire and further evaluation of the relative importance of the relationships indicated in the framework. A 2-day stakeholder workshop was used to develop and critique the final survey instruments. The behaviors which we identified where producer compliance may be reduced included requesting veterinary examination of cattle with clinical signs of FMD either before or during an outbreak of FMD, gathering and holding cattle at the date and time requested by veterinary authorities, and maintaining cattle in their current location during an outbreak of FMD. In addition, we identified additional factors which may influence producers' behavior including risk perception, trust in other producers and regulatory agencies, and moral norms. The theoretical frameworks presented in this paper can be used during an outbreak to assess barriers to and social pressures for producer compliance, prioritize the results in terms of their effects on behavior, and improve and better target risk communication strategies.