251986 Struggle for transparency: Accessing public health information following the Deepwater Horizon Disaster

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 9:10 AM

Casey Demoss Roberts, MPH , Science and Water Policy, Gulf Restoration Network, New Orleans, LA
Communicating public health information in times of crisis is often a challenge. Best practices in both disaster response and risk communication highlight the importance of consistent and culturally sensitive messaging, access to technical information, and the use of trusted messengers and appropriate communication vehicles. In all accounts, the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster presented unique challenges for local public health professionals and advocacy organizations. As a result of both the limited understanding of immediate and long term health impacts and the multiple stakeholders involved with vested interests in response and recovery, the public faced challenges in accessing information of both technical and a non-technical nature on a variety of topics including dispersants, seafood safety, oil debris and waste disposal and chemical exposure. This presentation will use case studies to describe these challenges and offer innovative and effective communication strategies used by the Gulf Restoration Network in ongoing outreach and advocacy around the Deepwater Horizon Disaster.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the connections between limitations in technical knowledge and public health communication challenges during times of disaster.

Keywords: Disasters, Health Communications

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Assistant Director of Science and Water Policy at the Gulf Restoration Network and have an MPH from Tulane University
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.