Date of Award


Degree Type

Restricted Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Terrance Gratton

Second Advisor

Sue Lurie

Third Advisor

Norman Trieff


Pezzia, Carla. Is an environmental health educational intervention sufficient to change behavior?: Perceptions from an indigenous lake community in Guatemala. Master of Public Health (Environmental Health), December 2006, 46 pp., 6 tables, 1 illustration, references, 18 titles. Traditional environmental health practices focus on education and exposure prevention, but the division between the biophysico-chemical and social environment keeps them from always being sufficient; human ecology seeks to bridge this division. The second leading cause of mortality in Guatemala is gastrointestinal infections, and San Pedro, Guatemala, provides an opportunity to study these infections utilizing a human ecological approach. Morbidity data were collected from the local health center, observations noted systematically, and both residents and tourists were interviewed regarding their perceptions of the community’s environmental health. Results found that residents who had no contact with tourists stated that, for gastrointestinal infections due to refuse in the streets, education alone would not be sufficient to reduce this problem; most felt some type of government intervention would be necessary. It is recommended that public health specialists enjoy a human ecological approach and refer to the community when designing an appropriate intervention.