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Social, family context, and prevention of mosquito-borne diseases in developing countries: A case of dengue in Sri Lanka

K. A. Thulitha Wickrama, K. A. S. Wickrama, Michael J. Merten, Sivaguru Thanigaseelan, Sukunan Gunasingham, Saranya Sathiyavasan


The Sri Lankan population has been exposed to the dengue virus for years and dengue contraction has emerged as a serious public health concern in recent years. The purpose of this study was to bring an understanding of the individual, familial, and contextual risk and protective factors associated with dengue infection in Sri Lanka from a social epidemiological perspective. The current study uses path analysis in a structural equation modeling framework to analyze data from 313 residents living in 25 villages in Eastern Sri Lanka. The findings showed that spatial, community, family and individual characteristics uniquely contributed to dengue contraction in Sri Lanka, particularly emphasizing the direct role of social and family resiliency factors such as familism and collectivism. The findings also elucidate the mediating roles of individual agency, knowledge, and preventive behaviors linking distal socioeconomic factors and dengue contraction. Additionally, findings yield that physical/spatial characteristics, such as rurality of communities, housing density/clustering and the proximity to stagnant water, contribute to dengue contraction. The identification of specific social, family and intra-individual processes, as well as structural characteristics of communities can be useful for the formulation and implementation of dengue prevention programs.


Keywords: Mosquito-borne diseases, social ecology, public health, context, dengue, prevention, developing countries


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