answer questions and 9 responses 1 for each post

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please answer the following:

1. From your reading, what is an example of how psychological distress either WAS mitigated or COULD HAVE been better mitigated via the use of effective risk communication from public officials?

2. Name a success of risk communication, if you can locate one, and alternatively, name a failure of effective risk communication (and why it was deemed a failure).

3. What lessons about effective risk communication will you carry forward in your career in emergency management?

4. Please note any other lessons that you would want to make sure to share with current and future colleagues

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post1

1. From your reading, what is an example of how psychological distress either WAS mitigated or COULD HAVE been better mitigated via the use of effective risk communication from public officials?

The Zika virus rose to the top of the newsfeed around the time of the Rio Olympics. There was growing concern that the athletes from around the world would contract Zika and return to their home countries with the disease. I believe a better PSA campaign would have helped mitigate these fears in the days and weeks leading up to the Olympics. I found a few PSAs from that time period:

2. Name a success of risk communication, if you can locate one, and alternatively, name a failure of effective risk communication (and why it was deemed a failure).

On the medical side of risk communication regarding Zika, there is an example of a successful surveillance program that is already in place globally for polio. The program focuses on looking for AFP (acute flaccid paralysis) in children less than 15 years old (Kandel et al, 2016). Sometimes the patient doesn’t have polio but they are instead diagnosed with Guillain-Barre. This is interesting because “several reported Zika virus cases from the 2015 and 2016 outbreak have also been linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome” (Kandel et al, 2016). Because of this link between Guillain-Barre syndrome and Zika, the World Health Organization has encouraged its surveillance programs to incorporate surveillance for Zika using the methods and trained personnel already familiar with polio surveillance. It’s a simple way to overlap the monitoring of two different viruses with similar symptoms (the AFP). And because of this link to Zika, WHO also suggests “active surveillance of AFP cases older than 15 years” showing symptoms of AFP (Kandel et al, 2016).

It was because of the successful polio surveillance programs that surveillance of GB caused by Zika could be easily encouraged and put into place by WHO. “As a primary participant in the disease recognition process, emergency physicians and other ED staff must be involved in surveillance system development” (Varney & Hirshon, 2006).

References

Kandel, N., Lamichhane, J., Tangermann, R. H., & Rodier, G. R. M. (2016). Detecting guillain-barré syndrome caused by zika virus using systems developed for polio surveillance. World Health Organization.Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 94(9), 705-708. Retrieved from https://ezproxy.philau.edu/login?url=http://search…

Varney, S. & Hirshon, J. (2006). Update on Public Health Surveillance in Emergency Departments. Emergency Medicine Clinics Of North America, 24(4), 1035-1052. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.emc.2006.06.004

3. What lessons about effective risk communication will you carry forward in your career in emergency management?

Because community members are experiencing a crisis and are desperate for information, they “process information differently and act on information differently” (Reynolds, 2004). An emergency manager should keep this in mind during a crisis when crafting communications to the public, as they will be hanging on to every word. And, when the information changes or is corrected, that should be communicated as soon as possible to avoid losing credibility.

Reference

Reynolds, B. (2004). Crisis + emergency risk communication by leaders for leaders. Atlanta, Ga.: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, p.4.

4. Please note any other lessons that you would want to make sure to share with current and future colleagues

I think that it is important to remember to keep the public updated with accurate information in a timely manner. Using social media as a supplement to press conferences is a good idea. It also gives the public a platform to post their questions or comments. When social media is used, the communication with the public becomes two-way instead of just the traditional disbursement of information. It can also be an effective rumour control tool.

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post2

  1. From your reading, what is an example of how psychological distress either WAS mitigated or COULD HAVE been better mitigated via the use of effective risk communication from public officials?

Communication in risk is one of the most important things that help to reduce the panic and fear among the members of the community, especially in the case of a new disease outbreak in the region. I think that the declaration of incomplete information or contradictory information may lead to a lack of trust in the authorities, which makes the society act and make false decisions based on the image that was formed. The CDC could have been better mitigated the psychological impact on society by avoiding divergent views from those responsible for the cause of the outbreak.

  1. Name a success of risk communication, if you can locate one, and alternatively, name a failure of effective risk communication (and why it was deemed a failure).

the CDC risk communication during the Anthrax Crisis was a clear example of a failure to communicate in risk for several reasons. First, the statement by a large number of officials on the causes of the outbreak of the disease and the contradiction of these reasons led to the spread of panic and fear among the people. Second, the incomplete and false information that has spread through the media has made everyone in the community act as they no longer trust the officials in order to save them from this outbreak.

3.What lessons about effective risk communication will you carry forward in your career in emergency management?

  • Keep the risk message short.
  • Make the risk message interesting.
  • Stay on message.
  • Test the risk messages.
  • Plan and prepare for a long-term endeavor.
  • Appeal to needs.
  • Appeal to emotions, especially fear.

Barrett, M. S. (2005). Spokespersons and Message Control: How the CDC Lost Credibility during the Anthrax Crisis This paper was presented to the Red River Communication Conference April 22, 2004. Qualitative Research Reports in Communication,6(1), 59-68. doi:10.1080/17459430500262190

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post3

1. From your reading, what is an example of how psychological distress either WAS mitigated or COULD HAVE been better mitigated via the use of effective risk communication from public officials?

The fear of the spread of Ebola was present in many regions of the world. Involving the community through effective messages that will form a general perception of the actual risk. When the community participate in the risk communication an environment of information sharing and a culture of resilience will be created which will help in achieving the public health goals. One challenge to this approach is the resources availability, funding this approach is essential to acquire the required resources.

2. Name a success of risk communication, if you can locate one, and alternatively, name a failure of effective risk communication (and why it was deemed a failure).

The process of risk communication happened in the SARS outbreak was interesting to explore. First, the perception of risk in the public level is an indicator of the quality of risk communication done by the officials. Hence, the variation of the degree of precepting SARS risk among the public was a sign of how risk communication wasn’t performed properly in this case. In the Canadian undergraduates survey we see how risk communication went wrong, the information received by the public was described to be confusing and containing conflicting messages. The mistakes above led to the risk communication to be perceived sometimes as being overly estimated and incorrect.

3. What lessons about effective risk communication will you carry forward in your career in emergency management?

  • Developing a communication plan is necessary for a good risk communication effort.
  • The shared information should be reliable, as well as having a unified source.
  • Honesty is over false assurance.
  • Showing empathy should go along with being honest.

4. Please note any other lessons that you would want to make sure to share with current and future colleagues.

  • Never confuse the audience with mixed opinions.
  • Avoid emotional approach because it will lead to false information.
  • Address only the widely spread rumors.
  • Announcing information should be at the appropriate time, which is usually right after that information is available to you.

Reference:

Emergency Preparedness and Response. (2018, May 02). Retrieved from https://emergency.cdc.gov/cerc/index.asp

Smith, R. D. (2006). Responding to global infectious disease outbreaks: lessons from SARS on the role of risk perception, communication and management. Social science & medicine, 63(12), 3113-3123.

Schiavo, R. (2014). Risk communication: Ebola and beyond.

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post4

Ebola has become a global problem that has raised psychological distress not only among those at risk but also among healthcare professional. It raises issues concerning the value of human life and professional responsibility. The moral dilemma concerning Ebola had raised fear among the international population and medical professionals in 2014 (Broom & Broom, 2017). Ebola is a highly infectious disease which was primarily mitigated by the use of effective risk communication from public health officials. Following the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa different world healthcare professionals including Australia, USA, Cuba, and the United Kingdom established a program where doctors and other healthcare professionals would volunteer to Senegal (developing world) and help in curbing the problem of Ebola (Broom & Broom, 2017). Effective risk communication from public officials played a leading role in bringing an end to the spread of Ebola. The health professionals began by data collection to map out areas that were highly affected. Besides, the health professionals used interviews to establish initial themes, cases, and contradictions concerning Ebola. The interviews and other forms of data collection did capture and the emotions and peculiarities concerning Ebola. The health professionals marked massive risk areas and risks associated with Ebola. They used quarantine to prevent people who had not contracted the symptoms of the disease to stay aware of the marked regions (Broom & Broom, 2017). The psychological distress was mitigated through the use of effective communication and individuals who were living in fear, uncertainty and risk were relieved from the distress.

Risk communication is an interactive process where information and opinion are shared among individuals, groups, and institutions. Organizational theory is one of the success factors employed in risk communication. Organizations tend to define some issues as import and others as less important. For instance, the organizational theory was employed effectively by a research team to communicate the effects of Ebola by encouraging preventive measures (Broom & Broom, 2017). In 2001, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) experienced what is considered as a failure of effective risk communication because of various sources of misinformation resulting from organizational dynamics. Besides, a team of researchers at USPS Monmouth Processing and Distribution Center (PDC) exposed organizational failure in the way the facility was dealing with the issue of anthrax (Barrett, 2005).

Based on the readings and the practical applications of risk communication, important lessons can learned regarding how effective risk communication be used to enhance communication during an emergency. Effective risk communication requires a better understanding of the audience. It is necessary to understand the audience since it aids the process of establishing how the communication will be passed through and how to communicate more effectively to those at risk (O’Neill et al., 2007). Besides, it is necessary for communicators to adapt to changing situations and adopt best practices that are necessary for effective communication during and after an emergency event. Moreover, in the future, it is important for emergency managers to take advantage of effective communication as an important approach to mitigating the impacts of a disaster (O’Neill et al., 2007).

Other lessons regarding effective risk communication that can benefit my colleagues in the future include the fact that effective utilization of risk communication enhances better outcome during an emergency. In this sense, it is critical for risk managers and the emergency response to utilize effective communication which in essence enhances coordination and ensures proper management of emergency situation (O’Neill et al., 2007).

Other important lessons that are worth sharing with my colleagues in the future include but not limited to the following:

Effective risk communication requires a better understanding of the audience.

The communicators should adapt to the changing situations and consider best practices that are necessary for effective risk communication efforts (Scott, 61).

It is necessary to let people know that you care about their problem before they begin to care about what you know.

The communicator should deliver the information to inform and calm the audience during a crisis.

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post5

In addition to just communicating in disaster situations, risk communication is emerging as an effective way of managing disasters. It is increasingly being seen as a more specific kind of communication whereby risk factors in disasters and emergencies are highlighted and their potential impact determined. For instance, in a disease outbreak where cultural values such as those that prohibit medical treatment can be identified as a risk factor to be dealt with when responding to such a disaster.

In the case of SARS, psychological impact could have been mitigated if there was a clear and authoritative communication from relevant authorities that could be trusted (Smith, 2006). Even though there was a lot of information about SARS flowing in public domain, the information was from numerous non-official sources and therefore it could not be trusted at an instance. In addition, the media could have been more responsible by giving objective rather than mystic information about SARS.

The CDC anthrax communication was largely a case of risk communication failure. For one, it took CDC long time to determine whether contaminated letters could cause anthrax or not. Such state of inaction led to spread of the disease (Barrett, 2005). In addition to this, various officials from CDC and related organization such as department of HHS kept of issuing conflicting information about the disease.

Some of the lessons I have gotten from the readings include in future, modern technology should be employed in risk communication in emergency management. Secondly I have learnt that risk communication information should be clear and precise. An organization should have one communication officer to avoid situations where by conflicting messages are send to the public like in the case of CDC communication about anthrax (Barrett, 2005).

References

Smith, R. D. (2006). Responding to global infectious disease outbreaks: Lessons from SARS on the role of risk perception, communication and management. Social Science & Medicine,63(12), 3113-3123. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.08.004

Barrett, M. S. (2005). Spokespersons and Message Control: How the CDC Lost Credibility during the Anthrax Crisis This paper was presented to the Red River Communication Conference April 22, 2004. Qualitative Research Reports in Communication,6(1), 59-68. doi:10.1080/17459430500262190

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post6

Risk communication about disease epidemic response is relatively a new but an appropriate communication that enhances response to a disaster. Focusing on specific risks inherent in a situation enables focusing of response action to increase efficiency (Schiavo, 2014).

From the anthrax case where there was inconsistent communication about what has killed Bob Stevens; there were conflicting messages from CDC and HHS secretary with the secretary insinuating that Bob was to blame for his own death. Long after Bob was buried there was no clear indication from CDC on what had killed him. This must have been agonizing for his family causing them psychological stress. Effective risk communication from public officials would have saved the family this kind of stress (Chess & Clarke, 2007).

The fact that the CDC, for a long time, was not sure whether contaminated letters could cause inhalation anthrax and subsequent failure to communicate such to public health officials, postal workers, and the public was a risk communication failure. I consider this a risk communication failure because no one was sure if the letters were a risk or not and continued handling of such letters consisted of increased health problem to the population and especially the more vulnerable populations such as postal corporation workers who handled letters.

I have done three readings one of them being, Spokespersons and Message Control: How the CDC Lost Credibility during the Anthrax Crisis. Out of these articles the take away lessons about risk communication include, an organization should appoint one communications officer to avoid incidences of contradictory messages like it was in the case of CDC about anthrax. Secondly, with the emergence of new useful information about an incident, an organization should be willing to revise its earlier information in the light of new information. This will ensure that flexibility and protect organizational credibility (Barrett, 2005).

References:

Schiavo, R. (2014). Risk communication: Ebola and beyond. Journal of Communication in Healthcare,7(4), 239-241. doi:10.1179/1753806814z.00000000095

Chess, C., & Clarke, L. (2007) Facilitation of Risk Communication During the Anthrax Attacks of 2001: The Organizational Backstory. American Journal of Public Health,97(9), 1578-1583. doi:10.2105/ajph.2006.099267

Barrett, M. S. (2005). Spokespersons and Message Control: How the CDC Lost Credibility during the Anthrax Crisis This paper was presented to the Red River Communication Conference April 22, 2004. Qualitative Research Reports in Communication,6(1), 59-68. doi:10.1080/17459430500262190

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post7

In every disaster, communication is an important process that determines the effectiveness of how response for a disaster has been carried out. Well, communication may go beyond just communicating and involve risk communication whereby the risks inherent in an event are properly communicated for action.

In the anthrax communication, having a clear message from CDC that is devoid of contradiction from the various officials would have reduced anxiety from the postal workers who in the wake of the communication blunders and inconsistencies by the CDC remained unsure what message to believe and what action they could take to minimize the risk of exposure.

Still from the anthrax case, unable to locate a risk communication success, I am able to name one risk communication failure. The fact that the CDC could not clearly identify and communicate that contaminated letters could cause a case of inhalation anthrax and therefore kept the people not sure was a risk communication failure. I consider it a failure because a clear message on whether contaminated letters were a risk could not be passed to people at the right time and appropriate action proscribed (Chess & Clarke, 2007).

From the anthrax case, I have gathered the following lessons about risk communication that I will carry forward in my career of emergency management. First, I will emphasize on limiting the spokespersons so that I can control the message and reduce contradictory message. Secondly, there is need to use strategic ambiguity especially in the situations where the organization is not sure of the message or does not have full information (Barrett, 2005). Finally, I will ensure that my organization is willing to revise earlier information as new information emerges.

References

Chess, C., & Clarke, L. (2007). Facilitation of Risk Communication During the Anthrax Attacks of 2001: The Organizational Backstory. American Journal of Public Health,97(9), 1578-1583. doi:10.2105/ajph.2006.099267

Barrett, M. S. (2005). Spokespersons and Message Control: How the CDC Lost Credibility during the Anthrax Crisis This paper was presented to the Red River Communication Conference April 22, 2004. Qualitative Research Reports in Communication,6(1), 59-68. doi:10.1080/17459430500262190

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post8

1. From your reading, what is an example of how psychological distress either WAS mitigated or COULD HAVE been better mitigated via the use of effective risk communication from public officials?

Risk communication from public officials during the anthrax threat in 2001 could have been better. A failure in releasing correct information led to miss communication from the media. The media used vague wording or suggestive wording to give the illusion of 2 positive anthrax cases in Hamilton NJ. This could really come down to the fact that a institutionalized public health guidance was not communicated by state and federal agencies.

2. Name a success of risk communication, if you can locate one, and alternatively, name a failure of effective risk communication (and why it was deemed a failure).

From reading the article, ‘Responding to global infectious disease outbreaks: Lessons from SARS on the role of risk perception, communication and management’ it gave two examples of a successful use of risk communication and a failure.

The first being how China was able to use proper and traditional public health measures to slow the spread of SARS. They where able to heighten the perception of risk of infection to the public while at the same time gave reassurance that action is occurring that reduces that risk.

A example of a failure from the article was the Canadian media. In a survey by Canadian under-graduate students, conclude that the Canadian media communicated conflicting messages and confusion to the public. Overall, the general consensus is that the media coverage of SARS was excessive, sometimes inaccurate, and sensationalist. These factors led to the public becoming more fearful of SARS and the governments ability to reduce the risk.

3. What lessons about effective risk communication will you carry forward in your career in emergency management?

A lesson I will take with me is that the public and media need specific detailed correct information from professionals. Information being given out can’t be contradicted and it should be agreed upon by a group of professionals of the event. Mixed messages can cause panic. The need to continually monitor and counter rumors and myths in real time is key to keep the public’s trust.

As an emergency manager understanding that I will need to create a strong communication plan , that is clear and creditable. Communication must be quick to the public and honest, decisions from operations need to be conveyed to the public with updates as the operation continues.

4. Please note any other lessons that you would want to make sure to share with current and future colleagues

Something I have learned with working, watching, and reading about communications with the media is to be honest, clear, empathetic and to give frequent updates. Media will replay the last comments over and over again until new information comes out, the faster you can update the media the better. Also understanding that people do not follow the news through out the life cycle of the event but in pieces and they will talk about the last thing they heard or read, and that might be wrong or outdated information.

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post 9

From your reading, what is an example of how psychological distress either WAS mitigated or COULD HAVE been better mitigated via the use of effective risk communication from public officials?

The New Jersey anthrax crisis caused psychological distress that could have been mitigated through the effective risk management by public officials. The situation when the mayor held a meeting with the workers in the absence of health officials who were in a better position to give a brief about the two hospitalized workers led to miscommunication. The public officials present at the meeting responded to what the workers had heard from the grapevine, which was picked by several media houses, causing panic and psychological distress (O’Neil, Calia, & Chess, 2007). Effective risk communication could have ensured that only the authorized spokesperson from the health department addressed the workers and the media.

Name a success of risk communication, if you can locate one, and alternatively, name a failure of effective risk communication (and why it was deemed a failure).

An example of ineffective risk communication was the reporting on SARS outbreak in Guangdong China. Public health officials tried to hide some information about the incident, leading to lack of clarity. It contributed to the spread of inaccurate and unscientific information, provoking psychological distress. There was no risk assessment done to improve the quality of communication (Smith, 2006). It was considered a failure since silence or hiding information during an emergency situation, especially in the modern era of rapid communication, leads to the creation of non-factual information communicated to the masses (Barret, 2005). Public health officials should know that concealing information makes the available information believable.

What lessons about effective risk communication will you carry forward in your career in emergency management?

The first lesson is that any communication must be made by public health experts to avoid any miscommunication that can lead to panic. Secondly, concealing information about an outbreak encourages the creation of non-factual information about it, which the masses can easily believe in (Barret, 2005). Therefore, it is essential to keep the public updated with scientific information.

Please note any other lessons that you would want to make sure to share with current and future colleagues

It is essential to have one spokesperson during risk communication to avoid dissemination of conflicting information.

References

Barret, M.S (2005). Spokespersons and message control: How the CDC lost credibility during the anthrax crisis. Qualitative Research Reports in Communication, 6(1), 59-68

O’Neill, J., Calia, J., Chess, C. (2007). Miscommunication during the anthrax attacks: How events reveal organizational failures.Human Ecology Review, 14(2), 199-128

Smith, R. (2006). Responding to global infectious disease outbreaks: Lessons from SARS on the role of risk perception, communication and management. Social Science & Medicine 63 (1), 3113–3123.

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