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About Health Risk Communication

The risk communication process begins when a hazard or a danger to the safety of human health occurs. Addressing this danger to human health is determined next by either law, in the case of a business or other organization whose practices are regulated, or commitment from an organization, like the World Health Organization (WHO) or The American Lung Association, part of whose mission is to reduce health risk. These organizations are committed to eradicating the spread of disease through knowledge and medical treatment. 

Managing the risk begins with an assessment of the risk, which is a scientific process that assesses the outcomes of a possible health scare, such as H1N1. Once the analysis has been completed, those who are to communicate the risk to the public decide what to do next. Risk communicators will either take steps to educate the audience, discuss the risk with the audience in order to determine a course of action, or encourage those who could be affected by the risk to take action.

Topics to be discussed in the elaboration of risk communication include: 

  • Risk communication vs. crisis communication
  • Approaches to communicating risk
  • Ethos, pathos, and logos
  • Hazards vs. risks 
  • Legal issues and organizational requirements