Risk Communication

Risk communication is the study of why people get upset about some risk, but not others. From the 1960s onwards, academics started building up a whole pile of evidence showings that the things people worry most about are not necessarily the things most likely to kill them. Human perception of, and reactions to, risk tends to be shaped more by emotions and values than scientific or statistical rationalisation.

This wisdom was summarised by the great American risk communication expert Peter Sandman as:

Risk = Hazard + Outrage

His website (www.psandman.com) is well worth reading.

It is accessible and insightful, with plenty of examples from the work of Sandman and his wife Jody Lanard.

In the area of public health, though, risk communication has a specific meaning linked to the International Health Regulations (2005). This is a treaty overseen by the World Health Organization (WHO) on how countries cooperate against epidemics and other cross-border health threats. It sets out the capacities countries need to put in place in order to detect, respond to and control health threats. One of these is risk communication. In the world of public health, then, risk communication is one of the key interventions for responding to epidemics and outbreaks.

You can read more about how WHO views risk communication, and its activities in this area at: http://www.who.int/risk-communication/en/

WHO’s free online training site Open WHO provides courses on Risk Communication (and many other topics).

If you still have questions, though, then please do contact me…

You can read more about how WHO views risk communication, and its activities in this area at: http://www.who.int/risk-communication/en/

WHO’s free online training site Open WHO provides courses on Risk Communication (and many other topics).

If you still have questions, though, then please do contact me…

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