A written survey about perceived radiation risks was conducted among three groups of a total of 400 individuals. Seventy-seven (26%) of the respondents were radiation workers, 35 (12%) were medical doctors without professional exposure, and 177 (68%) belonged to the general population. Even if the sample is not representative of the Romanian population as a whole, some interesting conclusions can be made. The level of anxiety toward radiation, expressed as a hazard perception index, is significantly lower in radiation workers when compared to medical doctors and the general population (0.81 ± 0.94, 1.42 ± 1.21, and 1.72 ± 1.34, respectively, p < 0.001). Hazard perception index values also varied with the education status, with lowest values among medical university graduates and highest among public school graduates (p < 0.001). Both university-graduated groups significantly differ from the non-university groups (p < 0.05). Knowledge about radiation and emergency plans for nuclear accidents/incidents was also correlated with hazard perception, with the results confirming the hypothesis that better knowledge is associated with lower radiation hazard perception. The extent to which people accept civilian nuclear power is also related to hazard perception and knowledge. The way people perceive the radiation risk differed among the three groups. Different levels of risk perception were associated with radiation from nuclear energy and diagnostic x rays. It is important that radiological protection authorities develop new plans and materials for communicating with the general public in order to improve knowledge of ionizing radiation, radiation risks, and the safety of civilian nuclear energy employment.
* Romanian Society for Radiation Protection, Dr. Leonte 1-3, RO-050463, Bucharest, Romania; † Research Institute for the Quality of Life, Calea 13 Septembrie 13, Bucharest, Romania; ‡ Carol Davila University for Medicine and Pharmacy, Social Medicine Department, Dr. Leonte 1-3, RO-050463, Bucharest, Romania.
For correspondence or reprints contact: L. T. Mihai, Romanian Society for Radiation Protection, Dr. Leonte 1-3, RO-050463, Bucharest, Romania, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Manuscript received 6 March 2005; revised manuscript received 24 February 2005, accepted 27 June 2005)