A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Understanding Risk Communication Best Practices and Theory


Understanding Risk Communication Best Practices and Theory

START releases two risk communication guides for emergency managers and communicators

August 9, 2012Stephanie Madden

Translating theory into practice is a persistent challenge, and a task undertaken by START affiliated researchers Brooke Fisher Liu, Ben Sheppard and doctoral student Melissa Janoske with the release of two risk communication guides entitled "Understanding Risk Communication Theory: A Guide for Emergency Managers and Communicators" and "Understanding Risk Communication Best Practices: A Guide for Emergency Managers and Communicators."

The guides are designed to provide emergency managers and local leaders with the foundations for conducting effective risk communication during the preparedness, response and recovery phases of all homeland security-related hazards. "Understanding Risk Communication Theory" presents a comprehensive review of risk communication theories and models.

"Understanding Risk Communication Best Practices" outlines best practices for influencing the publics' perceptions of risk, communicating with special needs publics and utilizing different forms of media. "Effective risk communication is vital in all phases of a crisis," said Liu.

"By providing emergency managers and communicators not only a list of best practices, but two guides that thoroughly explain the why behind best practices and relevant theories, risk communicators are better equipped to think strategically through the risk communication process."

These guides form the foundation of an ongoing two-year effort funded by the DHS Science & Technology Directorate Human Factors/Behavioral Sciences Division and led by Liu and Kate Izsak to develop, deliver and evaluate a risk communication training program for U.S. local officials related to homeland-security threats. The guides, as well as a comprehensive executive summary and appendices, are available as PDFs for download on the START website at: