3058.0 Communication and Disasters: Challenges and Needs Associated with Three Types of Disasters

Monday, November 5, 2007: 8:30 AM
The term “disaster” typically is used to describe situations involving large numbers of injuries, deaths, and/or property losses. Substantial literature has addressed responses to rapidly occurring natural disasters (e.g., resulting from earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis). However, experts increasingly recognize that not all disasters are alike, and thus, what constitutes effective communication responses may differ. For example, disasters may occur, not only due to natural causes, but due to engineering and/or structural failure (e.g., a stadium collapse), intentional attempts to terrorize populations (e.g., anthrax, dirty bombs), and failure to manage technological/environmental impact of industry and industrial waste. We commonly think of disasters as naturally- and rapidly-occurring. However, disasters also can result from intentional efforts to terrorize a population or from the failure to adequately address risks associated with environmental hazards. Likewise, “slow-motion disasters” can occur when the impact of an environmental/toxic hazard is in dispute and its effects play out over decades and across geographic venues (beyond the original contamination site). What disasters have in common is that a community and sometimes larger population may be affected or at risk and communication strategies can play a critical role in facilitating timely and effective short- and longer-term responses (including preventive) and facilitating individual and community/population-level coping. The proposed panel will identify and illustrate the communication challenges associated with three types of disasters. Speakers include an academic researcher with expertise in disaster communication and experts with professional experience in communication responses to natural disasters, intended disasters, and slow-motion technological disasters.
Session Objectives: Objectives: Attendees at the session will be able to (1) define disaster and understand differences communication challenges associated with specific types of disasters, (2) understand effective and ineffective communication strategies for responding to national, regional, and community-level audiences regarding impending and/or ongoing disasters, and (3) identify future public health and communication research and practice needs associated with disasters in general and specific types of disasters.

See individual abstracts for presenting author's disclosure statement and author's information.

Organized by: Public Health Education and Health Promotion
Endorsed by: Maternal and Child Health

CE Credits: CME, Health Education (CHES), Nursing