Field Epidemiology Manual Wiki

Risk communication

Last modified at 12/7/2016 10:38 AM by Vladimir Prikazsky

Risk communication needs to be considered at all stages of risk management. It is a sustained communication process established with a diverse audience about the likely outcomes of health and behavioural attitudes. The main goal is to engage communities in discussions about environmental and health-related risks to create public understanding about their outcomes and approaches to deal with them. Risk communication can be about specific health-related choices, e.g. the perceived risks associated with getting immunised, or related to behaviours, as the risks associated with sexual behaviour. This approach requires a profound understanding of the distinction between the different dimensions and models of behavioural sciences.

Ten golden rules for risk communication

  1. Never lie
  2. Never say 'no comment'
  3. There is never an 'off the record'
  4. Be short, get to the point and always think of the audience
  5. Stay calm and confident
  6. Use simple language
  7. Stay in control
  8. It is OK to say "I don't know, but I'll find out"
  9. Don't speculate
  10. beware of reporters' tactics
What do people remember from an interview on TV:
  • 55%   Body language (professional, interested, calm, nervous, intimidated etc)
  • 38%   Tone of voice (concerned, calm, worried, relaxed, happy)
  • 07%   Words (content)
In radio interviews, usually only 9 seconds of the interview will be used within the story they want to present. Make sure such a "sound bite" complies to the following:
  • No jargon
  • Simple language
  • Positive active verbs
Apply the "27/9/3 rule": Maximum 27 words, average 9 seconds, no more than 3 messages
The 3 C's of communication:

  • Consistent content
    • Explicit information
    • Accuracy is key
  • Clear message
    • Messages that leave no one guessing.
  • Courtesy conveys respect

Another option of the 3 C's - clear, concise, consistent.