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About the Primer

Historical Document

This document is provided by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) ONLY as an historical reference for the public health community. It is no longer being maintained and the data it contains may no longer be current and/or accurate.

Target Audience

The principles and techniques provided in the evaluation primer are designed to improve the capacity of risk communication practitioners and decisionmakers in PHS and non-PHS agencies to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of health risk communication messages, materials, and campaigns.


Use of the primer can facilitate planning evaluations for health risk communication programs in several key areas.

  • Informs decisionmakers about what should be communicated, in what form, to whom, and with what expected outcome.
  • Identifies performance indicators used in assessing or measuring communication goals. For example, the Seven Cardinal Rules of Risk Communication, as identified by EPA, are
    1. accept and involve the public as a legitimate partner
    2. plan carefully and evaluate your efforts
    3. listen to the public's specific concerns
    4. be honest, frank, and open
    5. coordinate and collaborate with other credible sources
    6. meet the needs of the media
    7. speak clearly and with compassion.
  • Provides guidance on how to most effectively use target audience ideas and opinions to shape the risk communication message.


The primer excerpts from the research of leading risk communication experts, including

  1. issues and guiding principles to consider in evaluating health risk communication activities, and
  2. case examples illustrating proven evaluation methods and tools.

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