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Principles for Effective Risk Communication Brenda D. Phillips, Ph.D. Oklahoma State University.

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Presentation on theme: "Principles for Effective Risk Communication Brenda D. Phillips, Ph.D. Oklahoma State University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Principles for Effective Risk Communication Brenda D. Phillips, Ph.D. Oklahoma State University

2 Social Vulnerability to Disasters Enarson, Morrow, Peek, Thomas, Phillips, Jenkins, Gruntfest, Fordham, Davis, Clive, Hansen, Mincin, Lovekamp, Pike, Fothergill, Dash, Scandlyn, Simon, Brett, Herring, McCoy, Passerini, Goldsmith, Stephens

3 Risk Communication (Tierney et al., 2001) RC is a process. RC involves joint effects of source, message and recipient characteristics. Risk perception involves hearing, understanding, believing and personalizing a risk. People deconstruct and reconstruct messages: evaluating, seeking additional information, and discussing information.

4 Principles for Risk Communication Complexity Diversify Redundancy Similarity Credibility Specificity Photo courtesy of Pam Jenkins and Barbara Davidson.

5 Complexity: Elderly Response to Warnings (Based in part on Peek, 2010 p. 167-168) Compliance Behavior Pets Prescriptions Providers Isolated living arrangements Diminished social networks Lower rates of information seeking behavior Challenges (physical, cognitive) Don’t want to leave familiar surroundings Previous Experience Income, Time of the Month Gender Issues Navigating to and in unfamiliar environments Trust, Credibility

6 Diversify Messages Is it in the language that you speak? What is the literacy level? If you have a cognitive disability can you interpret and respond to the message as it is intended?

7 Flesch-Kincaid Method (based on Morrow 2010) Calculate L – average sentence length (number of words/number of sentences) Calculate N – average number of syllables per word (number of syllables/number of words Calculate grade level with formula: (L x 0.39) + (N x 11.8) – 15.59 Calculate reading age with formula: (L x 0.39) + (N x 11.8) – 10.59 Microsoft Word has a version of the Flesch- Kincaid in its software. It can be accessed through the Spelling and Grammar function.

8 Diversify Channels (Tierney, et al. 2001; Dash 2010; Cutter 2005) “significant differences between channels community residents use most and those they prefer” (Tierney et al. 2001) “the same social structures that isolate minority populations in segregated communities also impact the warning messages they receive” (Dash 2010).


10 Social Media? With caution – Age issues – Income issues Rapid dissemination “I survived the Oklahoma blizzard of Christmas Eve” “I joined the evacuation for Hurricane X” It is one tool for the diversified toolkit. TREND: Internet Officers.

11 Redundancy We may not always be watching or listening the channels that are used, or we could be unable to hear, see or afford to access those channels. People need time to process and respond to the message. We need to transmit messages through multiple channels multiple times. (FEMA News Photo)

12 Similarity (FEMA News Photos)

13 Credibility: through trusted locations, familiar faces Florida/Alabama Safe Center/Senior Centers – “Blue roofs” Multi-purpose Ties directly to the population in need.

14 Message Specificity Effective Emergency Management National Council on Disability, August 2009 “Design warning messages so that they incorporate instructions for people with disabilities on how to take protective action for the impending hazard” “People with disabilities must be invited to the emergency planning table” “Build strong relationships with area disability organizations, advocates…”, select Publications and 2009

15 What would happen if we….. Designed warning systems that reflect the complexity of people’s lives? Designed and tested warning messages with the user audiences? Showed people with disabilities navigating an unfamiliar shelter? Tapped into social networks that people trust and believe? Use a process that redundant, diverse messaging as a given for communicating risk?

16 Points of Intervention Compliance Behavior VETS Pharmacies Routine contacts, e.g., health care providers N’hood groups Diversify message outlets Diversify message content Show others like them in the shelters Previous Experience Support early release of entitlements Barbershops, men’s prayer breakfast Link warnings to shelter locations; show them Senior centers, family members

17 Transforming vulnerability into capacity Dr. Alan Clive, FEMA (Co-author, Chapter 8 Disability)

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