The goal of the risk communication sub-project is to develop and test critical communication strategies and plans for community public health preparedness, response, and mitigation of event consequences before, during and after a large scale, urban terrorist event. Understanding risk communication principles is critical for responsive leadership in times of crisis, and will enable the building of effective capacity to reduce the consequences of terrorism.
Under crisis conditions, communication should be planned based upon consideration of message content, the characteristics of message senders and recipients, and the technology being used to convey messages to minimize delay in involving the correct personnel and utilizing the correct responses. The nature of these factors differs for pre-disaster, during disaster and post-disaster conditions. These dimensions will be incorporated into the risk communication task for LaSER. An interdisciplinary approach is adopted drawing on social psychology, communication technology, and risk communication directly applied to health threats associated with disasters.
- Developed a typology for organizing risk communication indicators.
- Developed and identified an extensive set of indicators supported by a literature and case review on risk communication and behavior in disasters, covering a broad range of medical, sociological, and risk analysis publications, articles, and cases.
- Developed a framework portraying parties involved in disaster communication (government, public, media, specialists, and services/industry/health care), their roles, and mode of interaction as a means of portraying communication networks.
- Designed preliminary message sets for a terror scenario involving a hypothetical release of Sarin gas in a confined space and for Smallpox and the modeling of human responses to messages based on risk communication indicators and the messenger-recipient role framework (ongoing).
- Designed focus group strategy, including recruitment script, scenarios and scenario scripts, and obtained IRB approval to conduct focus groups to obtain inputs for the risk communication indicators and scenario message sets; implemented two focus groups in August 2006 and documented results.
- Trained graduate students in risk communication methods and techniques, particularly with respect to applications in the area of health emergencies.
- Current products include: a set of risk communication indicators, an extensive literature review as background and support for the indicators, the identification of actual and desired behaviors by various public groups (including emergency responders) including whether or not people stay or leave an area in an attack, the preliminary design of message frameworks for Sarin release and Smallpox release scenarios, and publications, reports and presentations listed below on preliminary findings, a focus group report, a working paper on initial public behavior (whether people stay or leave) in a disaster, and various conference presentations. An additional product consisted of inputs in the form of questions pertaining to communication for the LaSER survey (Organization Based Incident Management: The Role of Volunteers on University Campus during Catastrophic Events).
- Current work also includes research on Compliance, Trust and Worry factors, relating to Leave and/or Stay Parameters included in the Computer Simulation (PLAN-C) Model. This is achieved in collaboration with the multidisciplinary modeling and legal team during collaborative team meetings.