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Risk Communication Objectives as a Measure of Effectiveness

Historical Document

This document is provided by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) ONLY as an historical reference for the public health community.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.

(Covello, Slovic, and von Winterfeldt 1987)

Program planning of any sort should begin with an explicit statement of objectives and how they will be evaluated. The following are the four major types of risk communication programs, categorized according to their primary objectives.

Type 1: Information and Education

  • Informing and educating people about risks and risk assessment in general.

    EXAMPLE: Using statistical comparisons of risks from different energy production technologies.

Type 2: Behavior Change and Protective Action

  • Encouraging personal risk-reduction behavior.

    EXAMPLE: Using advertisements to encourage people to wear seat belts.

Type 3: Disaster Warnings and Emergency Information

  • Providing direction and behavioral guidance in disasters and emergencies.

    EXAMPLE: Using sirens to indicate an accidental release of toxic gas from a chemical plant.

Type 4: Joint Problem Solving and Conflict Resolution

  • Involving the public in risk management decisionmaking and in resolving health, safety, and environmental controversies.

    EXAMPLE: Using public meetings to inform citizens about a possible hazardous waste site.

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