Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Hospitality and Tourism Management

First Advisor

Barbara Almanza

Committee Member 1

Carl Behnke

Committee Member 2

Doug Nelson

Committee Member 3

Jay Neal


The cruise industry is the fastest growing segment of the travel industry. Concurrent with its growth is the challenge of mitigating the risk associated with shipboard outbreaks. Norovirus is the leading cause of shipboard outbreaks. This study examined the efficacy of the protection motivation theory for predicting passengers’ intentions towards healthy behaviors in regard to norovirus disease incidence. Outbreaks of norovirus have serious health and economic consequences. Presently there is no vaccination available; however, handwashing and social distancing can have significant impact upon the course of an outbreak. The respondents of this study completed a scenario-based questionnaire regarding norovirus disease incidence in response to a simulated outbreak while at sea. The results indicated that the protection motivation theory (PMT) explained 58% of the variability in handwashing intention and 46% of the variability in social distancing intention. The findings found that PMT was a useful framework for understanding intention to engage in handwashing and social distancing behaviors. Furthermore, this study revealed a need for continued educational efforts directed at cruisers because almost one third of respondents indicated that they had no prior knowledge of norovirus. The findings also revealed that the cruising public has low levels of perceived severity and susceptibility towards norovirus.