Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Public perceptions of emergency decontamination: Effects of intervention type and responder management strategy during a focus group study

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Simon Wilkinson



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2018 Carter et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. In the event of an incident involving the release of a hazardous chemical, first responders may decide to initiate emergency decontamination in order to remove any contaminant from affected casualties. Recent initiatives such as the UK Home Office-led Initial Operational Response Programme have introduced new evidence-based decontamination protocols that reduce the time taken to initiate the decontamination process, including an increased emphasis on rapidly removing contaminated clothing (disrobe), and the use of improvised dry decontamination methods. The current study used a series of focus groups to examine public perceptions of different decontamination interventions and responder management strategies. Results revealed that a decontamination shower was perceived to be more effective than dry decontamination methods and that a management strategy that included effective responder communication resulted in increased willingness to comply with the need for decontamination. This study demonstrates that public understanding and acceptance of novel decontamination methods such as dry decontamination may present additional challenges for first responders. Increased emphasis on effective communication during decontamination is needed. Furthermore, provision of information during the focus group study resulted in an increase in participants’ knowledge and confidence in taking recommended decontamination actions, which was maintained three months after the study. The longitudinal nature of these effects suggest that it may be possible to increase public awareness about actions to take during chemical incidents by developing pre-incident public education; however, further research is needed to examine this more fully.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Carter H, Weston D, Betts N, Wilkinson S, Amlot R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PLoS ONE

Year: 2018

Volume: 13

Issue: 4

Online publication date: 13/04/2018

Acceptance date: 02/04/2018

Date deposited: 14/06/2018

ISSN (electronic): 1932-6203

Publisher: Public Library of Science


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0195922


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric