Purpose: The entire village of Iitate was contaminated by radioactive material from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant; even today, the residents remain evacuated. For the villagers, risk communication is an important element of recovery and maintaining health. This analysis focuses on the problem of radiation, presents results from a questionnaire of villagers, and examines methods for future risk communication activities.
Subjects and Methods: In May 2012, anonymous surveys were sent to 2914 heads of households whose addresses were registered in Iitate. Their understanding of radiation and information needs were extracted from the answers.
Results and Discussion: There were 1755 valid responses (61.4%). In relation to understanding, the most frequent answer was “There are numerous opinions and I do not know which one is true” (72.2%), followed by “I definitely want opportunities to learn more about how radiation is created” (41.6%). Residents felt that they could not determine which of the available information was reliable. The 60s+ age group responded more than younger age groups that “I do not have much information and do not know much about it,” “I do not know much about it, so I want to learn more,” and “I definitely want opportunities to learn more about how radiation is created.” Among information needs, “publications” (50.2%) and “community associations” (45.9%) received many responses; residents want study groups to be held at places and through media that give them regular opportunities to connect with each other. Residents in their 20s and 30s preferred “publications,” while those in their 40s, 50s, and 60s+ were more likely to request “community associations” and “resident meetings.” In addition, we found gender differences in both understanding and information needs. These results indicate that radiation and health risk communication should be addressed in a way that aligns with residents’ needs by age and gender.