Assessing knowledge gaps and empowering Extension workers in Illinois with information on ticks and tickborne diseases through KAP surveys

S. Chakraborty, H. Kopsco, C. Evans, N. Mateus-Pinilla, R. L. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tickborne diseases (TBDs) are increasingly prevalent in Illinois and the Upper Midwest region. People who work in occupations that require time outdoors in agricultural or natural settings, such as some Extension workers, are at risk of tick bites and TBDs. Additionally, Extension workers are often a primary source of information about ticks and TBDs in rural communities. However, there is limited information on the level of awareness about ticks and TBDs in the Extension community. The goals of this study were to sequentially i) determine the baseline awareness of Extension workers in Illinois about ticks and TBDs using a knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) survey tool, ii) provide comprehensive training on ticks and TBDs to this demographic, and iii) measure the uptake of knowledge after the training intervention through a post-training survey. The study period was from June 2022 until May 2023. We received 233 pre-training and 93 paired post-training survey responses. Most survey respondents were Extension volunteers, identified as women, and were over 50 years old. Knowledge about ticks and TBDs varied. We identified several gaps in their current tick awareness, most importantly, in tick prevention measures, tick identification, and TBDs in general. TBD knowledge, attitude, and practice scores all significantly improved after training (p < 0.001), with a mean difference of 10.47, 1.49, and 2.64 points, respectively. Additionally, both Extension professionals (79.2 %) and Extension volunteers (66.7 %) were more likely to feel confident in engaging with their stakeholders on ticks and TBDs after participating in training. Poisson models revealed that higher attitude and practice scores and greater self-reported knowledge were the factors most significantly associated with higher TBD knowledge. We found that greater concern for ticks and TBD (attitudes) and adherence to science-based prevention and management methods (practices) were also associated with higher knowledge scores. To our knowledge, this is the first study in Illinois to capture Extension workers' awareness of ticks and TBDs. The results highlight Extension workers’ interest in filling knowledge gaps through learning, and the importance of training Extension workers to disseminate reliable and updated information on ticks and TBDs to their constituents, a critical step in preventing TBDs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere25789
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 15 2024


  • Extension workers
  • Illinois
  • KAP study
  • Tick education
  • Tickborne diseases
  • Tickborne risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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