Thomas Jefferson Risk Communication and Psycho Social Impacts Questions Risk Communication and Psycho-social Impacts Prompt In your Module 5 folder, yo

Thomas Jefferson Risk Communication and Psycho Social Impacts Questions Risk Communication and Psycho-social Impacts


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In your Module 5 folder, you have 3 articles in the folder marked Additional Readings: Risk Communication. The crux of this body of reading has to do with the vital importance of Risk Communication when it comes to disaster communication. Please read at least three of these articles and highlight significant points in the Discussion Board below. If you are interested, do some further research to build on your readings. In your post, please answer the following:

From your reading, what is an example of how psychological distress either WAS mitigated or COULD HAVE been better mitigated via the use of effective risk communication from public officials?
Name a success of risk communication, if you can locate one, and alternatively, name a failure of effective risk communication (and why it was deemed a failure).
What lessons about effective risk communication will you carry forward in your career in emergency management?


Please be sure to follow these guidelines for this discussion:

This post does not have to be any particular length or style, but it does need to respond to all of the prompts.
You must respond to at least three (3) classmates but you may respond to more if you feel inclined.

Reading assignments are attached below:

Risk Communication: Ebola and Beyond – Risk communication Ebola and beyond(1).pdfACTIONS
SARS and New York’s Chinatown: The Politics of Risk and Blame During an Epidemic of Fear – SARS_NYC_risk_blame(1).pdfACTIONS
Miscommunication During the Anthrax Attacks: How Events Reveal Organizational Failures – oneilletal_anthrax_riskComm.pdfACTIONS
CDC: Crisis Communication – leaders-CrisisComm_CDC.pdfACTIONS Response 1 : Mohammed
From your reading, what is an example of how psychological distress either WAS mitigated
or COULD HAVE been better mitigated via the use of effective risk communication from
public officials?
One good example of how psychological distress could have been better mitigated by using
effective risk communication from public officials is the CDC spokesmen’s response to the
Anthrax. The response involved inconvenience messages, and the tremendous number of
spokespersons of the CDC is also questionable. A message control began almost immediately
when Secretary Tommy Thompson, responsible for the CDC as part of his Cabinet
assignment, inferred Stevens’ death was his fault by publicly speculating that Stevens, an avid
outdoorsman, “apparently drank from a stream while in North Carolina, a state known for
hog farming and its associated waste.” Seven days later, CDC erroneously reported, “This
appears to be a local and isolated exposure focused in one building” . The very next day, a
CDC press release announced that Erin O’Connor, working in New York City’s Rockefeller
Plaza, had developed cutaneous Anthrax after opening a letter laced with anthrax spores.
Also, public officials’ telebriefings and corresponding print media coverage of the anthrax
crisis reveal the use of multiple spokespersons and poor message control. This resulted in a
seemingly fragmented CDC message and apparent loss of CDC credibility.
Name a success of risk communication, if you can locate one, and alternatively, name a
failure of effective risk communication (and why it was deemed a failure).
The communication of radiological accidents after the occurrence of a nuclear disaster in
1979 at TMI was a failure of effective risk communication from whereby the report to the
government from the nuclear industry was delayed. This caused fear and confusion among
the public leading to a lot of evacuations than the issued official advisory on evacuation. The
nuclear accident was also initially underestimated.
What lessons about effective risk communication will you carry forward in your career in
emergency management?
I believe that developing a plan for risk and emergency communication is a must and will
help me as an emergency manager to ensure establishing clear communication lines with
other organizations, leaders, and communicators. Also, I believe it is necessary to collaborate
with public officials.
Please note any other lessons that you would want to make sure to share with current and
future colleagues
One thing I would share is that it is necessary to dispel rumors quickly. If left unaddressed,
rumors have the potential to weaken trust in official entities and decrease the effectiveness of
response measures taken by people. Take wearing the mask as an example. A lesson learned
from the current Pandemic COVID 19 is how many people around the world no longer
wanted to wear masks and concluded that the virus is fake. Many people thought that if the
virus was real, why would the politicians themselves not wear masks. On the other flip of the
coin, the CDC responded well to defeat against rumors on how the virus spread. Some people
thought the infection could spread via food, mail packages, and mosquito bites.
Eichelberger, L. (2007). SARS and New York’s Chinatown: The politics of risk and blame
during an epidemic of fear. Social Science & Medicine 65. 1284–1295.
O’Neill, K. Calia, J. Chess, C. Clarke, L. (2007). Miscommunication during the Anthrax
attacks: How events reveal organizational failures. Human Ecology Review. (14). 2. 119-129.
Response 2 : Saleh
In 2003, following the surfacing of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS),
several propaganda and stories spread all over the Asian regions in the United States,
particularly within the state of New York. Different interpretations were made with the
news media asserting that this was mainly a domestic pandemic, even as a small number of
individuals in the entire nation had been infected (Eichelberger, 2007). The Asian regions
were discerned as a site of risk and contagion. However, it is vital for a public leader to
oppose the rumors immediately to avert tension amongst society. The psychological distress
at this pandemic could have been mitigated better if there were a countrywide response from
the officials of the local government, the regional administration, and the state officials.
People in such a pandemic do not want to decide on the best message to tag along. They need
reliable and simple advice from several sources. Consequently, the countrywide response
officials could have teamed up with other allies counting the new media to make sure that
the correct message was dispersed to the general public immediately.
Regarding the West African pandemic, I believe that there is a lot to discover. In
New Jersey, the Anthrax attack is mainly an ideal example of futile risk communication. In
2001 during the attack, according to O’Neill et al. (2007), there was a very intricate
connection between the pertinent authorities. Although the attack was executed via a letter,
information to the general public was conveyed after two weeks. Actually, hospitals that
stumbled upon the cases of infection did not alert the local officials of health for
In the contemporary world of information, it is vital to circulate information
immediately to counteract the psychological distress that might surface from public tension.
This indicates that there ought to be a reliable message when there is a crisis. Therefore, I
have noted that to have a triumphant risk communication, and it is crucial to organize with
all important stakeholders and make sure that risk communication is accessible to the public.
However, this does not necessarily mean telling the general public to relax and not to be
anxious, but rather appealing to them, in the management progress, and constantly being the
guide. In simple words, nothing is significant in emergency management than a clear and
solid communication arrangement. Lack of solid plan, a disaster can be disadvantageous to
the public, akin to the CDC cases, throughout an anthrax attack. Today, CDC has been
criticized and blamed owing to the lack of effectual risk management communication.
Eichelberger, L. (2007). SARS and New York’s Chinatown: the politics of risk and blame
during an epidemic of fear. Social Science & Medicine, 65(6), 1284-1295.
O’Neill, K. M., Calia, J. M., Chess, C., & Clarke, L. (2007). Miscommunication during the
anthrax attacks: How events reveal organizational failures. Human Ecology Review, 119-129.
Schiavo, R. (2014). Risk communication: Ebola and beyond.
Response 3 : Fayez
Question 1
Mainly, public officials have a critical role to play to address psychological distress occurs as a
result of disasters. During emergencies and disasters, public officials should use effective risk
communication strategies to prevent mental anguish suffered by victims. In the article,
“Crisis Emergency Risk Communication,” the author has presented how Frank Keating,
Former Oklahoma Governor, used effective risk communication after the explosion in the
Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995. Keating evaluated the situation that resulted in
the death of 168 people (Reynolds et al., 2004). He helped people overcome psychological
distress via a quick response as well as engaging in honest and open dialect with the victim.
Thus, the mitigation of psychological distress was done through empathy to enable the
public to recover and allow the public officers to connect with the affected people.
Question 2
Risk communication can be successful if the public officials provide critical facts about an
emergency to prevent injuries and damages. In the article, “Risk Communocation: Ebola and
Beyond,” a success of risk communication can be identified. After the Ebola outbreak in
West Africa, public officials engaged the public to establish disease control measures
(Schiavo, 2014). Thus, risk communication was used by public officials to honor the victims
of Ebola by improving global health via increased training, research, preparedness on risk,
and funding. This was a success of risk communication because it enabled the world to be
prepared on how to handle disasters.
Consequently, a failure of effective risk communication has been presented in the article by
Eichelberger (2007). The outbreak of SARs in Chinatown, New York, United States created
tension among the Americans. However, the public official’s risk communication via an
email dated April 1, 2003, failed (Eichelberger, 2007). Instead of uniting people, risk
communication was used to express fear and stigmatize Asians living in the United States.
Therefore, effective risk communication failed because it was based on rumors and false
information about SARs.
Question 3
From the readings, effective risk communication is a paramount component that should be
embraced by all stakeholders to mitigate disasters. One of the lessons learned is that effective
risk communication should be based on concrete facts and information. Any speculations
and rumors should be avoided because they create fear, blame, and other negative
consequences. Another lesson learned about effective risk communication is that the right
information or message should be passed to the public at the right time (Reynolds et al.,
2004). Lastly, I learned that each crisis affects people differently. Thus, public officials should
evaluate and apply the most appropriate risk communication strategy to mitigate risks and to
empower people to overcome the crisis.
Eichelberger, L. (2007). SARS and New York’s Chinatown: the politics of risk and blame
during an epidemic of fear. Social Science & Medicine, 65(6), 1284-1295.
Reynolds, B., Hall, W., Vanderford, M. L., & Wolfson, M. (2004). Crisis+ emergency risk
communication by leaders for leaders. Retrieved
from (Links to an external site.)
Schiavo, R. (2014). Risk communication: Ebola and beyond. Journal of Communication in
Healthcare, 7:4, 239-241, DOI: 10.1179/1753806814Z.00000000095
On April 19, 1995, an explosion ripped through the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building
in downtown Oklahoma City killing 168. Former Oklahoma Govneror, Frank Keating
(pictured above), helped the city overcome the tragedy through quick response and by
emphazing open and honest dialect with the public. His ability to express emphathy following the horrific incident not only allowed the community to get back on its feet, but also
allowed Keating to connet with the families whose lives had been shattered.
Keating, along with six other leaders detail key emergency risk communication principles
during an event in the face of a major public safety emergency in this book: CERC: by
Leaders for Leaders.
(photos courtesy of David J. Phillips – AP and Paul Whyte – USA Today)
Crisis & Emergency Risk Communication: By Leaders for Leaders
Crisis & Emergency Risk Communication:
By Leaders For Leaders
Made possible by:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
In partnership with:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Public Health Practice Program Office
CDC Office of Communication (OC), Office of the Director (OD)
Project Development
William Hall, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA), HHS
Barbara Reynolds, OC, OC, CDC
Marsha Vanderford, Ph.D., OC, OD, CDC
“The Leaders”
John Agwunobi
Written by:
Barbara Reynolds, MA, OC, OD, CDC
Edited by:
William Hall, ASPA, HHS
Marsha Vanderford, Ph.D., OC, OD, CDC
Marc Wolfson, ASPA, HHS
Project Consultants
Matthew Seeger, Ph.D., Wayne State University
Tim Sellnow, Ph.D., North Dakota State University
Daniel Baden, M.D., OC, OD, CDC
Jeff Bowman
San Diego Fires
Douglas Duncan
D.C. Sniper
Graphic Layout/Research:
Chad R. Wood, OC, CDC
Digital Graphic Design and Development
Pete Seidel, PHPPO, CDC
Alex Casanova, PHPPO, CDC
Audiovisual Production Specialists.
Morris Gaiter ………… Producer
Bryon Skinner ………. Videographer
Todd Jordan ………….. Videographer
Susy Mercado ……….. Production Assistant
Video Clips Coordination
Chad R. Wood
Bindu Tharian
Julie Gerberding
Frank Keating
OK City Bombing
With special thanks to the following
State and Local Health Department Communication Consultants:
Bob Alvey, Arkansas
Mary Anderson, Montgomery County, MD
Ken August, California
Roxanne Burke, Shasta County, CA
Jamie Durham, Alabama
Kimberly Fetty, West Virginia
Don Pickard, Kansas City, MO
Richard Quartarone, Georgia
Terri Stratton, California
Mary Jo Takach, Rhode Island
Melissa Walker, Louisiana
National Public Health Information Coalition Members
William Reynolds, Atlanta American Red Cross
Susan Dimmick, Ph.D., University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Patricia Owens
ND Floods
Ivan Walks
Crisis & Emergency Risk Communication: By Leaders for Leaders
Crisis & Emergency Risk Communication:
By Leaders For Leaders
This book gives leaders the tools to navigate the harsh realities of speaking to the
public, media, partners and stakeholders during an intense public-safety emergency, including terrorism. In a crisis, the right message at the right time is a
“resource multiplier”—it helps response officials get their job done. Many of the
predictable harmful individual and community behaviors can be mitigated with
effective crisis and emergency risk communication. Each crisis will carry its own
psychological baggage. A leader must anticipate what mental stresses the population will be experiencing and apply appropriate communication strategies to
attempt to manage these stresses in the population.
Nowhere in this book is there an implied promise that a population or community faced with an emergency, crisis, or disaster will overcome its challenges solely
through the application of the communication principles presented here. However, this book does offer the promise that an organization can compound its
problems during an emergency if it has neglected sound crisis and emergency risk
communication planning. Readers should expect to gain the following understanding:
Table of Contents
Communicating in a crisis is different ……….. 4
What the public seeks from its leader ……….. 4
Five communication failures …………………… 5
Five communication steps for success ……… 9
During a disaster, what people feel? ……….. 13
Expected behaviors that must be confronted … 15
Perception of risk …………………………………. 18
First message in a crisis ………………………… 20
Audience judgments about your message … 21
Make the facts work in your message ……. 22
Employ the STARCC principle ……………….. 23
Crisis Comunication Plan ……………………… 24
Working with the media ……………………….. 25
Successful press conferences ………………. 29
Writing for the media during a crisis ……….. 30
The Leader as a spokesperson ……………… 31
Grief and your role as spokesperson ………. 37
Know the needs of your stakeholders …….. 38
The Psychology of Communicating in a Crisis
5 communication failures that kill operational success
5 communication steps that boost operational success
How to reduce public fear and anxiety, and come to terms with “panic”
Why people need things to do
5 key elements to build and maintain public trust in a crisis
The dreaded town hall meeting ……………. 40
Media law ………………………………………….. 43
Definitions and processes …………………….. 44
Keeping fit for duty in a crisis …………………. 46
CERC Tools ………………………………………… 48
Bibliography ……………………………………….. 53
Your Role as a Spokesperson
New research on the public’s perception of government
Applying the STARCC principle in your communication
Questions the public and media always ask first
5 mistakes that destroy stakeholder cooperation
How to deal with angry people
Working with Media during a Crisis
Your interview rights with the media
Countering media interview techniques that can hurt you
2 things that guarantee your press conference will fail
3 things to say early in the crisis when the media are beating on your door
Public Health and Media Law
The media’s right of publication
Employee access to media
Legal definitions of detention, isolation and quarantine
Included in this book are excerpts from interviews so that you can hear directly
from leaders—governors, mayors, health officials, and fire chiefs—who stepped
up to the microphone during crises and faced their community and the world.
Learn how they made tough decisions about how to inform, console and motivate their constituents during and after the crisis.
Crisis & Emergency Risk Communication: By Leaders for Leaders
The need to communicate
clearly was never more
compelling than during the
recovery from the World
Trade Center attacks.
People were desperate for
information. The information
had to be correct, but there
were delicate questions of
taste and sensitivity as well.
-Rudolph Giuliani
We talked about the anthrax
attack because two members of our community had
died. That’s not a scare when
you actually kill someone. It’s
an attack, and that sort of
language nuance builds a
level of connection with the
community so you’re viewing
the incident the same way
they’re viewing the incident.
-Ivan W
., Health
alks,, M
Director, Washington D.C., Anthrax,
Communicating in a Crisis is Different
Crises can assault your community in an instant or creep slowly into your
midst randomly wreaking havoc until it has you firmly in its grip. Conventional explosions, category-5 hurricanes, chemical releases, shooting sprees,
deadly disease outbreaks, 500-year floods, dirty bombs, nuclear bombs,
fertilizer bombs, earthquakes, blazing brush fires, infrastructure collapses,
and raging tornadoes are just some of the disasters we know threaten
somewhere at sometime and are, ultimately, outside our control.
Leaders do control, however, how well their communities respond and
recover from the disasters they suffer. As a leader in a crisis you can have a
real, measurable affect on the wellbeing of your community through the
words you say and the speed and sincerity with which you say them. Research indicates that, in natural disasters, the public perceives the success of
the operational response by the amount and speed of relevant information
they receive from the emergency response officials (Fisher, 1998).
Communicating in a crisis is different. In a serious crisis, all affected
people take in information differently, process information differently and act on information differently (Reynolds, 2002). As a leader,
you need to know that the way you normally communicate with your
community may not be effective during and after it suffers a crisis.
In a catastrophic event, your every word, every eye twitch and every passing
emotion resonates with heightened importance to a public desperate for
information to help them be safe and recover from the crisis. In several
surveys, the public was asked who they would trust most as a spokesman or reliable source of information if a bioterrorism event occurred
in their community. Respondents trusted most the local health department
or a local physician or hospital. However, respondents also trusted “quite a
lot” or “a great deal” their own doctor, the fire chief, the director of the
health department, the police chief, the governor and a local religious
What the public seeks from its leaders in a crisis
The public wants to know what you know. The leader’s challenge is to give
the public what they are demanding within the fog of information …
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