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Pros and Cons of Community Response

This information is for historic and reference purposes only.  Content has not been updated since the last reviewed date at the bottom of this page.
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A community’s reaction to a public health crisis can vary widely. Individual and group behaviors will differ based on a range of factors. Communication, however, can impact how an affected community responds to an emergency situation.

Without communication from a trusted source, negative emotions may lead to harmful individual or group behaviors. These behaviors may affect the public’s safety by affecting the speed, quality, and appropriateness of a crisis response and recovery. Crisis-related psychological issues may lead to further loss of life, health, safety, and property.

However, crises may also create positive emotions and behaviors. Positive responses might include coping, altruism, relief, and elation at surviving the disaster. Feelings of excitement, greater self-worth, strength, and growth may come from the experience. Often a crisis results in changes in the way the future is viewed, including a new understanding of risks and new ways to manage them.

Effective communication that addresses both negative and positive emotions is crucial to a successful crisis outcome. Messages that anticipate possible behaviors and encourage positive feelings can promote an effective crisis resolution. They may also inspire a renewed sense of community.

For more resources and information on CERC, please see Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication, 2014 Edition or Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication Pandemic Influenza, 2007.

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