Sharing Information

A person speaking at a podium.
Cade Martin, 2009. CDC/Public Health Image Library.

A key component of public health work involves sharing information. Sharing information that is specific, concrete, easy to understand, and transparent can enhance the community’s understanding and awareness of the history and extent of environmental contamination, the potential risks associated with exposure, and ATSDR’s role in the public health response. Information can help empower people to act. In addition, information can prevent stress associated with not understanding who’s involved and what’s going on. A key topic for sharing information is setting clear expectations for what the community should and should not expect throughout the course of your engagement. When choosing how to share information, consider your goals and the intended outcomes of the communication.

Here are some formats for sharing information with communities:
  • Informal conversations and phone calls
  • Site visits
  • Briefings and presentations
  • Public meetings, public availability, and poster sessions
  • Dedicated phone lines and email addresses
  • Booths or tables at local public events
Keep in Mind

Involving the community early and often in your public health work will foster trust and give you the insight you need to target the right audience and craft tailored messages.

Where to Start
Tips from the Field

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Make sure what you are communicating is accurate, clear, easy to understand, and honest. Be prepared to answer challenging questions. Consider how information about scientific uncertainty will be received by community stakeholders and bring in subject matter experts to discuss information.

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Be careful not to speak on behalf of other organizations or government agencies when sharing information with the community. Consider inviting representatives of other agencies who are involved with or who can help the community.

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Do not overpromise what you or ATSDR can do for any one individual or for the community.

Additional Resources
Page last reviewed: December 15, 2021