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Consumer behavior and risk

[OCT. 1, 2002]  URBANA — Recalls in children’s car seats and toys, reports of product tampering and food contamination have created financial losses for individual companies, but other crises such as the threat of mad cow disease, can cripple an entire industry. Understanding what drives the behavior of consumers when faced with product-related crises like these was the topic of a recent study at the University of Illinois.

A team of researchers in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at U of I, led by Joost M.E. Pennings, looked at how people respond to a risky situation. They chose to evaluate German, Dutch and American consumer reactions to the threat of mad cow disease.

The researchers broke down risk behavior into two components: risk perceptions and risk attitudes. Risk perceptions are based on whether a person thinks it is likely that they might, for instance, contract a disease from eating beef — their perception of the likelihood that something bad will happen to them. Risk attitude (or risk aversion) reflects a consumer’s general predisposition to the risk of contracting the disease — and how willing they are to take a risk in the first place.


"If beef consumption is primarily driven by risk perceptions — that is, the likelihood of contracting a disease," said Pennings, "the solution to the mad cow crises would be to educate consumers about the level of risk they are taking." Pennings explained the flip side of the risk coin: If consumers’ response to the mad cow crisis is driven by their risk attitudes, then the beef industry has fewer and costlier options, namely to test each cow for the disease and to slaughter those that test positive, hence ensuring that the risk is eliminated.

The three-country study showed significant differences in consumer risk attitudes and perceptions.

Not surprisingly, Americans included in the survey showed little apprehension about eating beef, since mad cow disease is not a problem in the United States. But, even though the severity of the disease has been about the same in Germany and the Netherlands, the Dutch responses to questions in the survey paralleled the Americans’ answers.

What consumers understand about mad cow disease also played a role in the findings.  "One of the biggest concerns with mad cow disease," said Pennings, "is that contaminated beef can cause Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease in humans. Yet, since the chance of getting the disease by eating beef is extremely small, it is puzzling that consumers react the way they do."


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Pennings suggested that the perception of risk on the part of consumers can be lessened with more education. The more people understand about the risks, the more informed they are to make decisions on their behavior.

Currently, the probability of contracting Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease is not accurately known. The researchers suggest that in such a situation different policy measures must be taken in different countries. In countries such as the United States, tough measures are required to prevent a mad cow crisis because risk attitudes drive consumption and little can be done to change consumers’ risk attitudes. This means testing and slaughtering all suspected cows.

In countries such as Germany, both risk perceptions and risk attitudes drive consumer behavior, suggesting not only the need for tough measures, but also for extensive and responsible dissemination of accurate information by government, industry and media. In contrast to the United States and Germany, Dutch consumer behavior is driven mainly by risk perceptions. In this case, honest and consistent communication by both the government and the beef industry is more effective than a mass slaughtering of cows.


"If the probability of contracting Creutzfeldt-Jacob is accurately known," said Pennings, "risk perception becomes a more important driver of beef consumption in low and mildly risky situations." He said that in low-risk situations, messages from the government, the beef industry and the media will have a bigger impact on helping consumers decide whether or not to eat beef, particularly in the United States and The Netherlands. However, in the case of high risk, recall of products or in the case of mad cow, elimination of entire herds may be necessary.

The findings from this study can help managers and public officials understand these cross-cultural differences and help them to predict how and why consumers in different countries will respond to a crisis.

[U of I news release]

Teleconference offers answers
about long-term care insurance

[SEPT. 28, 2002]  The University of Illinois Extension is presenting a free teleconference seminar titled "What You Need to Know About Buying Long-Term Health Care Insurance." This seminar for consumers will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Nov. 6.

"The cost of long-term care can be enormous, and insurance is one way to pay for it. But buying long-term care health insurance is complicated," said Paul McNamara, U of I Extension consumer economist. "The more you know about available options, the more likely you will be satisfied with the policy you choose, and it will meet your specific needs."

When considering this insurance, McNamara suggests you make an informed decision to fit your personal situation. Find out the critical questions that you need to ask.


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The seminar will feature four expert presenters. Topics include an explanation of long-term care and your risk of needing long-term care; deciding whether or not long-term care insurance is appropriate for you; when to buy long-term care insurance; and how to choose the right long-term care insurance plan. In addition, seminar participants receive a set of consumer resources on long-term care insurance as well as information on additional resources that can help you plan for your long-term care needs.

To sign up for the free teleconference seminar, contact your local U of I Extension office. Spaces for the teleconference are limited, and the deadline for registration is Oct. 21.

[U of I news release]

Health Matters

A monthly feature from  Logan County Health Department

The flu and you

[SEPT. 3, 2002]  As the fall weather approaches, flu season begins. Influenza is a serious and widespread illness that is the cause of as many as 4,000 deaths each year in Illinois. Influenza is caused by a virus that spreads from infected people to the nose or throat of others and can cause fever, cough, chills, sore throat, headache and muscle aches in people of any age. Influenza should not be confused with intestinal illness.

People considered at high risk should get a flu shot every year. The optimal time for these individuals to receive influenza vaccine is during October and November.

High-risk categories include:

•  People 65 years of age or older.

•  People with chronic medical conditions.

•  People with immune system problems.

•  Women who will be in the second or third trimester of pregnancy during flu season.

•  Children receiving long-term aspirin therapy.

•  Employees of nursing homes or other chronic care facilities.

•  Health-care workers.

•  Household contacts of people at increased risk for influenza-related complications.


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All others should begin their flu shots in November and later, for as long as vaccine is available.

Beginning in October, Logan County Health Department will have flu and pneumonia immunizations available at the Health Department, 109 Third St., and on the Rural Health Van.

Flu shots and pneumonia shots cost $16 each. Medicare will pay for flu and pneumonia shots; clients must bring their Medicare card with them. Medicaid will pay for only flu shots; clients must bring their Medicaid card with them.

Watch the newspapers for upcoming schedules of flu clinics or call Logan County Health Department at (217) 735-2317 for more information.

[News release]

Red Cross

Blood drives and classes for October

[SEPT. 24, 2002] 

Blood drives

The Logan County Health Department will sponsor two American Red Cross blood drives in October at the Lincoln Sports Complex. On Oct. 2, hours will be from noon until 6 p.m., and on Oct. 16, hours will be from noon until 5 p.m. Appointments may be made by calling (800) 728-3543 if desired, but walk-ins are always welcome

Blood donors who reached milestones with their September donations were Bernie Benson, 14 gallons; Donald H. Hudelson, 11; and Cameron Shafer, eight gallons.


The American Red Cross will offer CPR and first aid classes Oct. 14, 15 and 16 at their Lincoln office, 125 S. Kickapoo St.

The training in adult CPR will be on the 14th, first aid on the 15th, and an infant and child CPR class on the 16th. All sessions will be from 5:30 until 9:30 p.m.

To register or for further information, call 732-2134 between noon and 4 p.m. weekdays.

[Logan County Red Cross news release]

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Honors & Awards


ALMH offers prenatal classes

[SEPT. 18, 2002]  The next series of prenatal classes at Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital will be in October. The series consists of four Wednesday evening classes, Oct. 2, 9, 16 and 23. Sessions are from 7 to 9 p.m.

Classes will be in conference rooms A and B on the lower level at ALMH. The cost of the series for expectant mothers and their significant others is $30. Participants will receive information on topics including warning signs during pregnancy; labor; breathing and relaxation techniques; delivery; infant care; and breast-feeding. A tour of the ALMH Family Maternity Suites will also be given.

For more information or to register for the prenatal classes, call ALMH’s Family Maternity Suites at (217) 732-2161, Ext. 235.

[News release]

Mobile health unit schedule

The Rural Health Partnership has announced the schedule for its mobile health unit for 2002.


Morning: 9-11 a.m.



Afternoon: 1-3:30 p.m.


1st and 3rd


1st and 3rd



2nd and 4th

San Jose

2nd and 4th






Mount Pulaski



New Holland




1st and 3rd




2nd and 4th

Friendship Manor-Lincoln


1st, 2nd, 4th

Village Hall-Latham




2nd and 4th




Maintenance/ special events


special events

The mobile health unit does not operate on the following dates for holidays during 2002:  Jan. 21 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), Feb. 18 (Presidents’ Day), March 29 (Good Friday), May 27 (Memorial Day), July 4 (Independence Day), Sept. 2 (Labor Day), Oct. 14 (Columbus Day), Nov. 11 (Veterans Day), Nov. 28-29 (Thanksgiving break) and Dec. 24-25 (Christmas break).

For more information on the mobile health unit schedule and services, contact Dayle Eldredge at (217) 732-2161, Ext. 409.

Community resource list

This family resource list to save and use is provided by the Healthy Communities Partnership and the Healthy Families Task Force, 732-2161, Ext. 409.         


Phone number


Lincoln agencies


911 (emergency)
732-3911 (office -- non-emergency)

911 Pekin St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital


315 Eighth St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

American Red Cross

732-2134 or 
1 (800) 412-0100

125 S. Kickapoo
Lincoln, IL 62656

Catholic Social Services


310 S. Logan
Lincoln, IL 62656

Lincoln/Logan County Chamber
of Commerce


303 S. Kickapoo St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Community Action (CIEDC)


1800 Fifth St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Crisis Pregnancy Center/
Living Alternatives


408 A Pulaski St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

DCFS (Department of Children
& Family Services)

735-4402 or 
1 (800) 252-2873
(crisis hotline)

1120 Keokuk St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Heartland Community College
- GED program


620 Broadway St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Housing Authority


1028 N. College St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Illinois Breast & Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP)

735-2317 or 
1 (800) 269-4019

109 Third St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Illinois Employment and Training Center (replaces JTPA office)


120 S. McLean St., Suite B
Farm Bureau Building
Lincoln, IL 62656

Lincoln Area YMCA


319 W. Kickapoo St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Lincoln/Logan Food Pantry


P.O. Box 773
Lincoln, IL 62656

Lincoln Parents’ Center


100 S. Maple
Lincoln, IL 62656

Lincoln Park District


1400 Primm Rd.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Logan County Department of Human Services (Public Aid)


1500 Fourth St.
P.O. Box 310
Lincoln, IL 62656

Logan County Health Department


109 Third St.
P.O. Box 508
Lincoln, IL 62656

Logan-Mason Mental Health

735-2272 or
735-3600 (crisis line)

304 Eighth St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Logan-Mason Rehabilitation Center


760 S. Postville Drive
Lincoln, IL 62656

The Oasis
(Senior Citizens of Logan County)


501 Pulaski St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Project READ


620 Broadway St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Salvation Army


1501 N. Kickapoo
Lincoln, IL 62656

Senior Services of Central Illinois

732-6213 or 
1 (800) 252-8966
(crisis line)

109 Third St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

U. of I. Extension Service


980 N. Postville Drive
Lincoln, IL 62656

Springfield agencies

Department of Aging


421 E. Capitol, #100
Springfield, IL 62701-1789

American Cancer Society

(24 hour)

1305 Wabash, Suite J
Springfield, IL 62704

Community Child Care Connection

(217) 525-2805 or
1 (800) 676-2805

1004 N. Milton Ave.
Springfield, IL 62702-4430

Hospice Care of Illinois

1 (800) 342-4862
(24 hour) or
732-2161, Ext. 444

720 N. Bond
Springfield, IL 62702

Illinois Department of Public Health

(217) 782-4977

535 W. Jefferson
Springfield, IL 62761

Legal Assistance Foundation

(217) 753-3300 or
1 (800) 252-8629

730 E. Vine St., Suite 214
Springfield, IL 62703

Sojourn Shelter & Services Inc.

732-8988 or
1 (866) HELP4DV
(24-hour hotline)

1800 Westchester Blvd.
Springfield, IL 62704

U. of I. Division of Specialized Care for Children

524-2000 or 
1 (800) 946-8468

421 South Grand Ave. West
Second Floor
Springfield, IL 62704

Logan County libraries

Atlanta Library 

(217) 648-2112

100 Race St.
Atlanta, IL 61723

Elkhart Library

(217) 947-2313

121 E. Bohan
Elkhart, IL 62634

Lincoln Public Library


725 Pekin St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Mount Pulaski Library


320 N. Washington
Mount Pulaski, IL 62548

(updated 2-15-02)

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