International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene

Home Hygiene & Health

The Leading Source of Scientific, Professional & Consumer Information
International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene

Home Hygiene & Health

The Leading Source of Scientific, Professional & Consumer Information

Investigating expert and lay judgments of pathogen transmission risk in urban and architectural environments

The threat of infection posed by the COVID-19 virus forced the general public to use the visible cues within urban and architectural environments as a ‘lens’ through which pathogen transmission risk could be inferred. This study presents a model that quantifies associations between (1) the visible cues of urban and architectural environments and lay ratings of pathogen transmission risk, (2) the same relationship for experts (i.e. Infection Control Practitioners), and (3) the association between the lay ratings and the expert ratings. A series of urban and architectural environments were rated on twenty visible architectural cues and for their perceived pathogen transmission risk by lay and expert raters. Correlational analyses between the two groups yielded considerable consensus between risk ratings, as well as between which cues were significantly associated with risk ratings, which included the space’s crowdedness, the potential for crowds, and cleanliness. Expert risk ratings were also significantly associated with corridor size, and marginally significantly associated with the number of touchable surfaces, the number of furniture/seating, and access to fresh air. In this way, expert cue utilization is more complex than lay assessments. Implications for public health policy makers and designers of the built environment are discussed.

David Borkenhagen & Colin Ellard (04 Jan 2024): Investigating expert and lay judgments of pathogen transmission risk in urban and architectural environments, Cities & Health, DOI: 10.1080/23748834.2023.2294642