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The Risk Communicator

Issue 1 (August 20, 2008)

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Research Summaries:
Summaries of Work from Deborah Glik and Craig Lefebvre

Deborah Glik's "Risk Communication for Public Health Emergencies"

In her recent article in the Annual Review of Public Health, Deborah Glik conducts an overview of different research areas and practical applications that have shaped current risk communication theory and practice in the field of public health. Defining the concept of emergency risk communication as "accurate and effective communication to diverse audiences in emergency situations," Glik provides background information on how this particular field came into existence.

According to Glik, the field of emergency risk communication has roots in four specific areas of communication: environmental risk communication, disaster management, health promotion and communication, and media and communication studies. Glik contends that risk communication in the field of public health is relatively similar to risk communication practices in other fields, differing mainly in message content.

The author is encouraged not only by the increasing number of emergency risk communication publications and exercises, but also by the increased visibility of public health agents and the emergency messages they deliver (e.g., during the West Nile and SARS outbreaks, avian flu pandemic preparations, etc.). She stresses that significant progress has been made to include emergency risk communication principles in public health practice. Glik notes that even though public health professionals are improving upon their risk communication skills and experience, the field requires more in-depth evaluation to assess true effectiveness.

Glik, DC. Risk communication for public health emergencies. Ann Rev Public Health 2007;28:33-54.

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