Applied Risk Communication for the 21st Century

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There are many public health implications of the increased pace with which information is created and accessed by the public, 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.