Bio-terrorism: steps to effective public health risk communication and fear management
Jones-Hard, Susan G.
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A potentially serious gap exists in the preparedness of the public health system to respond to terrorism: risk communication. Unless this system is better structured to provide American citizens with a clear understanding of the potential risks and hazards associated with a terrorist event -- particularly a bio-terrorism event -- citizens not only run the risk of taking inappropriate protective actions, but also of experiencing increased (and potentially debilitating) levels of fear. In a survey I conducted of public health officials in an eleven state region (which includes my own state, Colorado) I found that significant opportunities for improvement exist in their emergency preparedness planning. Of particular concern, there was limited risk communication planning. Nonetheless, there was a high level of confidence in the states' perceived level of preparedness to respond and communicate risks during a potential bio-terrorism event.
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