226920 Closing the gap: Reducing social inequities in the effectiveness of crisis and emergency risk communication

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 3:15 PM - 3:30 PM

Elaine Vaughan, PhD , Psychology and Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA
Timothy Tinker, DrPH , Strategic Communications, Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., McLean, VA
Historical evidence and recent public health crises such as Hurricane Katrina illustrate how longstanding gaps in communication planning for certain populations contribute to a disproportionate impact of a public health emergency across society. Despite efforts to integrate ethnically and racially diverse communities into emergency preparedness planning, gaps in communication readiness were again evident during the response to the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic. Evidence from empirical studies and technical reports, news accounts and anecdotal stories from public health officials in several states revealed gaps in emergency health preparedness, including risk communication. Plans to build public trust; dispel rumors; inform about vaccine safety, availability and effectiveness; and motivate preventive behavior seemed less successful in removing vaccination barriers among certain racial/ethnic groups. Importantly, several social and demographic factors that predicted increased risk of medical complications from the H1N1 virus also were associated with more skepticism about vaccine safety and less persuasive impact of public health communications. This presentation will describe evidence from multiple sources that suggests reduced effectiveness of H1N1 risk communications during 2009 for certain segments of African-American and Latino populations. We will discuss why risk communications may have had limited success among some groups during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, and identify concrete steps to improve communication readiness for culturally diverse and vulnerable populations. Proposed strategies draw on a substantial knowledge base and evidence regarding best practice in crisis/risk communication, and are consistent with principles highlighted in a recent statement by the National Consensus Panel on Emergency Preparedness and Cultural Diversity.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Objective: Describe recent evidence on the impact and effectiveness of 2009 emergency risk communications about the H1N1 influenza pandemic among African-Americans, Latinos and other communities. Objective: List specific steps to address gaps in risk communication for diverse populations with reference to identified shortcomings in the response to the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic. Objective: Discuss recent examples of crisis and risk communication successes that fully and systematically incorporated into strategies knowledge about existing trust, risk perspectives and life circumstances of culturally diverse populations

Keywords: Culture, Risk Communication

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered