Risk communication is an integral part of the risk analysis process and has been defined as an interactive process for exchanging information and opinions between risk evaluators, risk managers and other interested parties. Risk communication is the process by which information and opinions regarding hazards and risks are gathered from potentially affected and interested parties, and by which the results of the risk assessment and proposed risk management measures are communicated to the decision makers and interested parties in the importing and exporting countries. Risk communication is a multidimensional and iterative process that should ideally begin at the start of the risk analysis and continue throughout
Goals of risk communication
-To promote awareness and understanding of the specific issues under consideration during the risk analysis process, by all participants, - To promote consistency and transparency in arriving at and implementing risk management decisions, - To provide a sound basis for understanding the risk management decisions proposed or implemented, - To improve the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the risk analysis process, - To contribute to the development and delivery of effective information and education programmes, - To foster public trust and confidence in decision-making institutions, - To promote the involvement of all interested parties in the risk communication process, - To exchange information on the knowledge, attitudes, values, practices and perceptions concerning risks. The literature on risk communication is large and diverse. Various disciplines, including psychology, cognitive science, communication and mass media studies, sociology, management science, decision sciences, and various health-related disciplines, have made contributions to the body of work that currently exists on risk communication. Studies vary along many dimensions, including: The types of risks that are focused on, which span a vast panoply of health, safety, and environmental risks–including natural and technological hazards Salient characteristics associated with risks, including their frequency and severity, uncertainty with respect to the risks themselves and to outcomes resulting from their occurrence, and other attributes of risks (e.g., familiar, exotic, dreaded or deadly) Risk communication time frames, which range from very short-term (e.g., warnings that some disaster will strike within minutes or hours) to long-term (e.g., risk communications focusing on the long-term health risks associated with smoking or poor diet) Elements in the risk communication process that are considered (e.g., source, message, channel, and receiver characteristics and combinations of those elements) Models used to describe and explain the risk communication process Factors associated with risk communication successes and failures Dependent variables and outcomes of interest, which range from risk perceptions and changes in those perceptions to specific actions that can be taken in response to risk communication messages, such as self-protective and risk-management activities
Risk Communication as Process
There are many models of the risk communication process, virtually all of which have their basis in Lasswell’s (1948) original characterization of communications as involving six elements: source, channel, message, receiver, effect, and feedback. As summarized by Tierney, Lindell, and Perry (2001: 84-85), the process can be thought of as encompassing the following steps or stages: [I]nformation about an actual or potential disaster can come from physical cues or from social sources such as authorities, news media, and informal groups. The information can be transmitted face-to-face or through different technological channels (print or electronic) to different demographic segments of the community, producing a range of psychological and behavioral effects…the effects on the...
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