244726 A critical evaluation of H1N12009 risk communication efforts with children and families

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 12:30 PM

Andrew S. LaJoie, PhD, MSPH , Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences, Louisville, KY
Miriam S. Silman, MSW , Center for the Study of Violence Against Children, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Ginny Sprang, PhD , Center for the Study of Violence Against Children, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
James J. Clark, PhD , College of Social Work; Center for Study of Violence against Children, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Phyllis Leigh, MSW, CSW , Center for the Study of Violence Against Children, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Candice Jackson , Center for the Study of Violence Against Children, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Children are often among the highest risk populations during pandemic. Risk communication before, during and after pandemic is critical to engaging parents in desired behaviors for disease containment. A mixed methods study of pandemic disaster response provides data from 2,608 parents, youth, health care professionals, public health officials, behavioral health providers and legal and ethics experts on their experiences, observations and actions during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Findings indicate that unintended consequences occurred, compromising parent compliance specifically and public compliance overall. Parents were overwhelmed by conflicting information from a variety of sources and were uncertain what information to trust and follow. Limited child-focused or family-targeted messages required families to adapt information to their unique circumstances. Vulnerable populations had almost no population-specific messaging, leaving families and children within those groups at even greater disadvantage. Understanding of and compliance with quarantine and isolation instructions and other disease containment measures were compromised. Further, children and their caregivers may have experienced additional and unnecessary stress as a result of incomplete, inaccurate or untimely information. Lastly, risk communicators at local and state health departments were particularly challenged by pace and fluctuation of recommendations that came from federal agencies. Many say they believed the confusion was passed on to the target audiences. Based on these findings, a set of recommended guidelines to develop child-focused and family-targeted peri-pandemic risk communications are proposed.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics

Learning Objectives:
1. Evaluate the communication strategies used in preparedness efforts with families and children prior to and during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. 2. Identify strategies for communicating with vulnerable and special populations. 3. Formulate strategies to include vulnerable and special populations in the development of effective pandemic communication and messages. 4. Describe strategies for improved family-centered risk communication and messaging for to future pandemics.

Keywords: Risk Communication, Health Communications

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was involved in much of the data collection process, data analysis process, and writing process.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.