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Risk Communication (Basics of Public Health Preparedness, Module 10)

Length: 45 minutes
Description:This module defines risk communication and provides strategies for developing effective risk communication methods. Additionally, it discusses the role of the Public Information Officer (PIO) and how risk communication fits into the Incident Command System (ICS).
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This training was developed with the support of the UNC Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Center (UNC PERLC), a funded project of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC Cooperative Agreement 1U90TP000415). The UNC PERLC gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the West Virginia Center for Threat Preparedness and the North Carolina Public Health Preparedness and Response Branch in shaping the content and framework for this training.

Learning Objectives

Training Personnel


Kasey Decosimo, MPH


Tanya Montoya, MPH, MCHES, CPH

NCIPH Reviewer:

Rachel Wilfert, MD, MPH

Subject Matter Expert Reviewers:

Susan Sullivan, RN-BC, MS, Public Health Nurse Consultant, Training/Exercise Facilitator, Public Health Preparedness and Response Branch Central Regional Office, North Carolina Division of Public Health

Wendy Boggs, RN, Public Health Nurse Consultant, Training/Exercise Facilitator, Public Health Preparedness and Response Branch Cities Readiness Initiative(CRI) Regional Office, North Carolina Division of Public Health

Bill Furney, BS, Communication Coordinator, Public Health Preparedness and Response Branch, North Carolina Division of Public Health

Additional Expertise Provided by:

Kristi George, Public Information Officer, West Virginia Center for Threat Preparedness

The author(s) and reviewer(s) of this training have no personal financial relationships with commercial interests relevant to this presentation to disclose. Author, narrator, reviewer affiliations listed were current at the time of training development.

Competencies and Capability Functions Addressed

This training addresses selected applied epidemiology, core public health, and public health preparedness and response competencies and public health preparedness capability functions. (Please note: The competencies included on this site are just a few of the public health competencies which have been established. Training participants may find alignment between this training and other competency sets not included on this site.)

Public Health Preparedness Capabilities
Capability 4, Function 1: Activate the emergency public information system
Capability 4, Function 5: Issue public information, alerts, warnings, and notifications
Public Health Preparedness & Response Core Competencies
2.1. Manage information related to an emergency.
2.2. Use principles of crisis and risk communication.
2.3. Report information potentially relevant to the identification and control of an emergency through the chain of command.


Federal Emergency Management Agency. IS-29. Public Information Officer Awareness Training [online course]. http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/is29.asp. Accessed June 15, 2012.

Reynolds, B. & Seeger, W. (2005). Crisis and emergency risk communication as an integrative model. Journal of Health Communication; 10: 43-55.

Reynolds, B. (2002). Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vincent Covello. Center for Risk Communication. http://www.centerforriskcommunication.com/home.htm. Accessed June 15, 2012.

Hyer, R., & Covello, V. (2005). Effective Media Communication during Public Health Emergencies: A WHO Field Guide. Geneva: World Health Organization (WHO/CDS/2005.31a).

Environmental Protection Agency. Message Mapping. Homeland Security Research Highlights. http://www.epa.gov/nhsrc/news/news040207.html. Accessed June 15, 2012.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2006). Pandemic Influenza Pre-Event Message Maps. http://www.pandemicflu.gov/news/pre_event_maps.pdf. Accessed June 15, 2012.

Riederer, C., Wilkinson T., Snook, W., Hoff, G., Griffin, R., & Archer, R. (2005). When Bioterrorism Strikes: Communication Issues for the Local Health Department. Health Promotion Practice, 6, 424-429.

Rader, A. Edmunds, M., & Bishop, J. (2010). Public health preparedness and response for at-risk populations: Harnessing the power of health information and communication technologies. McLean, VA: Booz, Allen, Hamilton. http://www.boozallen.com/media/file/Public-Health-At-Risk-Populations.pdf. Accessed June 15, 2012.

Sandman, PM and Lanard J. Practicing for The Big One: Pennsylvania's Hepatitis A Outbreak and Risk Communication. http://www.psandman.com/col/hepatitis.htm. Accessed June 15, 2012.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health, Office of Public Health Preparedness & Response. ICCE Net Intrastate Crisis Communication Enhancement Network. http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/phpr/iccenet.pdf . Accessed October 1, 2012.