Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Every day, more information is generated and made available to the public and people are accessing this information in real time across platforms. While the frequency and scale of disasters may not have changed significantly, people’s access to unfiltered information about these crises presents a significant new risk – one possibly as dangerous as the hazard itself.
There are many public health implications of these developments, but the challenges posed by communicating risk to engender the desired response among the public are the most far-reaching. These challenges include:
- Risk communicated during non-crisis periods competes with other topics for the public’s attention, often resulting in low-impact, wasted resources, and undesirable outcomes.
- Risk communicated during crisis periods is disseminated through an overwhelming multitude of media —both old and new— resulting in both intended consequences, such as increased knowledge and compliance, and unintended outcomes such as rejection of the message or panic.
This applied program will provide state-of-the-science knowledge on designing effective risk communication messages to improve communication outcomes, increase trust in your organization, reduce public anxiety about an issue, and help key stakeholders make better decisions.
Learning Objectives Include:
- Develop a state of the science understanding of the individual, psychological, interpersonal, and societal factors that influence the
-- Generation and communication of risk information during crisis and non-crisis periods
-- Impact of risk communications on public’s risk perceptions, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors, including compliance
- Apply this knowledge to designing effective risk communication messages drawing on the science of strategic communication and health communication
- Become familiar with and practice methods for evaluating risk communication efforts