Date of Award


Degree Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Eric R. Wright

Second Advisor

Hannah L. Jackson


INTRODUCTION: Shigella bacteria causes a diarrheal disease known as shigellosis through the ingestion of feces. Recent culture-confirmed diagnoses have been identified as antibiotic-resistant and can be life-threatening for some people. Men who have sex with men (MSM) are more often diagnosed due to risky sexual behaviors. In addition, the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) may contribute to risky sexual behavior among MSM.

AIM: The aim of this capstone is to use secondary data collected from focus groups to guide the creation of prevention messages based on health promotion theories.

METHODS: Participants were recruited in Atlanta, GA to attend focus groups that assessed their perceived threat, perceived susceptibility, and ideas of effective prevention messages. Six focus groups were conducted with a total of n = 24 participants that lasted approximately one hour.

RESULTS: Only four participants had heard of Shigella prior to this study. Main themes addressed by participants included stigma/inclusion; using humor, curse words, and images; and connecting prevention messages with HIV/AIDS and other STIs. Some participants reported use of PrEP. Participants more often suggested using mobile apps and placing ads on the walls of men’s restrooms in gay bars. In addition, each group mentioned specific sexual behaviors, including fisting, rimming, scat, and oral/anal sex, to include in messages.

DISCUSSION: Messages for tobacco control made use of scare tactics, but those may not be suitable regarding shigellosis. The Elaboration Likelihood Model of Persuasion and Diffusion of Innovation may be more effective.