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

12/01/2008

As we have learned from recent experiences, existing emergency plans are not often sufficient to meet the communication needs of the varied at-risk populations in the United States. Because little rigorous evidence is currently available in this area, we set out to identify what information does exist and to learn where more research is needed to fully inform policy makers about meeting the communication needs of at-risk populations. In this study, we use multiple strategies to identify existing practices, gaps that may still exist in developing and disseminating risk communication practices for at-risk populations, and promising approaches to reaching and preparing at-risk populations in the event of an emergency. This study focuses on the following policy questions:

  • What public health preparedness outreach and risk communications strategies are used with senior citizens, PWD, and other at-risk populations, including their caregivers and providers of long-term care services? How have those strategies been translated into educational and outreach information?

  • Which strategies, if any, demonstrate promising evidence of success--for example, through increased public awareness and compliance--and thus might inform broader public health preparedness planning for at-risk populations, including PWD and senior citizens?

  • What can we learn from existing emergency preparedness efforts that might specifically support the Secretary’s role in implementing the PAHPA and enhance emergency preparedness for at-risk populations?

To address these policy questions, the RAND team undertook three key activities: We: (1) reviewed the literature on emergency preparedness risk communication and public health messaging strategies, particularly for at-risk populations; (2) assembled a compendium of current emergency preparedness communication, outreach, and education materials/practices directed at at-risk individuals and their caregivers, including providers of long-term care services; and (3) conducted site visits in four states/regions regarding promising or emerging efforts to educate and inform at-risk populations and their providers. In this report, we present the results of our site visits, synthesize the findings from all of these efforts, and identify gaps in the practice of risk communication with at-risk populations. The interim reports from the literature review and compendium are included in Appendix A and Appendix B.1

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