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Health Risk Communication - Theory in Practice

Dan Rutz, MPH, National Center for Infectious Diseases (NCID), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), MS C-19, 1600 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30333, 404-639-4932, drutz@cdc.gov

The emergence of several new infectious diseases together with the protracted threat of terrorism in the United States prompts an ongoing need to appropriately characterize public health risk. Tenets of risk communication, as ascribed by a growing body of communications experts, call for greater transparency and direct engagement of the public in assessing events and considering the risks of various possible outcomes. Full disclosure of what is and what is not known is prescribed, along with official acknowledgement of the publicís fears and situational uncertainties.

This presentation relates theoretical components of modern risk communication strategy to actual practice. Examples demonstrate recent CDC experience in managing communication around such dynamic events as avian influenza, SARS, monkeypox, and smallpox vaccination. In the context of these events the establishment and evolution of CDCís Emergency Communications System (ECS) is described and the roles of its various teams discussed in relation to specific audiences and communication objectives.

Learning Objectives: Learning Objectives At the conclusion of this presentation the participant (learner) will be able to

Keywords: Risk Communication, Medical Devices

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Innovations in Teaching, Researching, and Applying Health Communication

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA