Americans' Knowledge and Perceived Risk of Tuberculosis


Address correspondence to Rita L. Ailinger, PhD, RN, MS:3C4, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030. E-mail:


Abstract  Tuberculosis (TB) has resurged as a major public health problem in the United States, but there is minimal information on the public's knowledge of TB. The general population must become aware of the seriousness of the reemergence of TB. Using data from the National Health Interview Survey Supplement, this study examined knowledge and perceived risk of TB of 14,727 U.S. respondents. Results demonstrated some general knowledge of TB, several misconceptions, and low concern regarding their risk of contracting TB. Only 10.2% of the respondents perceived risk for themselves. Respondents reported perceived knowledge of TB at a high level, while their actual knowledge was lower. Gender, education, income, and ethnicity were associated with knowledge and perceived risk. Older people responded correctly to questions about TB knowledge more often than younger people. Conclusions were that public health nursing efforts need to be redirected toward health education regarding TB risk and spread, complementing existing screening and therapy programs.