Risk and Outbreak Communication

Risk communications takes into consideration political, social and economic factors; analyzes risk and risk perception to communicate effectively; and gives great importance to dialogue with affected and targeted populations to help them make the best possible decisions during public health emergencies.

Effective communication clarifies misconceptions allowing people to make decisions based on complete and accurate information. It also minimizes the resentment of those who feel excluded from health policies, helps to maintain the health standards or change the status quo, and thereby save lives.

Risk communications includes:

  • First announcements, transparency and dissemination of information
  • Coordinating public communication
  • Risk communication for public meetings and press conferences
  • Listening through dialogue
  • Developing risk communication capacity and national plans of action
Fact sheet

What is risk communication?

Risk communication refers to the real-time exchange of information, recommendations, and opinions between experts and/or officials and people who face a threat (risk) to their survival, health, or economic or social well-being. The ultimate goal of risk communication is that every person exposed to a risk is able to make informed decisions to mitigate the effects of the threat (risk), such as the outbreak of a disease, and take protective and preventive measures and actions.

Risk communication uses varied communication techniques ranging from social media to mass media, interest groups, and community motivation. Risk communication requires an understanding of stakeholders' perceptions, concerns, and beliefs, as well as their knowledge and practices. Effective risk communication must be able to identify and be able to handle rumors, as well as misinformation and other communication challenges from the outset.