Analysis of Risk Communication Strategies and Approaches with At-Risk Populations to Enhance Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery: Final Report. Conclusions

12/01/2008

This task centered on the compilation of emergency-related risk communications designed to address the needs of vulnerable populations. An extensive search of web-based resources from 73 Federal Government agencies and national organizations uncovered 242 available risk communications. The identified resources most commonly addressed issues relevant to PWD, children, the elderly, and those with chronic medical disorders. Relatively few resources were found for those who are institutionalized, pharmacologically dependent, from diverse cultures, transportation disadvantaged, pregnant, or who have limited English skills or are non-English speakers.3 Most of the resources identified did not specify emergency type. Where specified, emergencies were most commonly natural disasters.

Upon detailed review (Phase 2), 41 of these resources were flagged as exceptional (so-called “all-stars”) and subjected to more in-depth review (Phase 3). This review, in turn, uncovered a number of promising risk communication strategies that were effectively implemented by these resources. Most common were themes related to the clarity and understandability of the resources, closely followed by comprehensiveness and having an action orientation. Less often cited, but still highlighted, were strategies to make resources more engaging, as well as providing clear statements of objectives and risks.

The compendium reaffirmed several findings of the literature review (Task 3 of this project). The literature review revealed that some vulnerable populations are especially underrepresented in the peer-reviewed literature, such as institutionalized individuals, individuals with pharmacological dependency, and pregnant women. These three groups are also underrepresented with respect to publicly available resources (Table 2). The compendium resources also parallel the results of the literature review with respect to functional areas addressed. Resources addressing communication and medical care were found most frequently, whereas resources addressing supervision were least common. The literature also suggested that emergency preparedness risk communication should be offered in multiple languages; though the compendium was not designed to capture all translated materials, surprisingly few resources were available in languages other than English.4 Finally, the literature review emphasized the need for risk communication tailored to the developmental abilities of children. Here, the compendium found that resources specifically designed for children were prevalent, and addressed a wide variety of types of public health emergencies.

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