Effective communication of risk is a central component of any strategy for public health protection. Communication informs, advises and educates the public, enabling them to make informed choices about the actions they will take based on the risks they potentially face. All public sector bodies are ultimately accountable to the public and have a duty and responsibility to keep the public informed.
But effectively communicating risk is a complicated and challenging process. Each situation presents opportunities for establishing clarity on an event and the hazard it poses to public health. However it also carries the potential of creating confusion and increasing anxiety, either because the primary message is unclear or its interpretation is faulty.
This guidance has been created to help public service organisations put themselves in the best position to effectively and accurately communicate risk to the populations they serve. It has a particular focus on working with the media, through which many risk communication messages reach the public.