The “Recognize” Objective
The primary objective for “Recognize” is:
Understand that all public health responses to environmental contamination become part of the community’s “secondary impact” experience.
Understanding This Objective
Public health responses become part of the community’s ongoing experience of the situation. This may create positive or negative secondary impacts on stress. Try to minimize or prevent negative effects.
What Is a Secondary Impact?
Secondary impacts are separate from potential direct health effects of the contamination. Instead, secondary impacts refer to the psychosocial impacts on individuals and communities, including mistrust of public health and other institutions, the stigma of living in “contaminated” areas, and conflict in local groups about how to define and respond to the problem.
The “Recognize” objective has two secondary objectives:
- Legitimize the stress experience.
- Communicate risk effectively.
Minimizing or Preventing Negative Secondary Effects
Continually evaluate how public health actions are either reducing or elevating psychosocial impacts and improve actions accordingly.
Public health professionals and other representatives of intervening institutions should bear in mind their power to either help the situation or inadvertently make it worse. Institutional delegitimization can be minimized if professionals interacting with the community legitimize the stress experience and communicate risk effectively.