Emerging public health threats, such as Coronavirus (COVID-19) or other infectious disease outbreaks, creates many psychological stressors. Some are known and understood, allowing for preparation and training. As these events evolve, novel mechanisms of injury and harm increase fear and uncertainty and can significantly diminish community wellbeing. Community members can be best prepared through timely, accurate, and updated public health education information, which is best delivered using effective, ongoing risk communication.
Risk communication is a critical tool for optimizing the psychological and behavioral response of an organization or community. For healthcare and community leaders, risk communication involves sharing information about risks, the significance and meaning of those risks, as well as decisions, actions, or policies aimed at managing the risks. Effective risk communication builds trust and collaboration, reduces stress, and allows community members to better focus on performing their roles at home and work.
To help leaders enhance the ability of community members to manage the unique psychological stressors of emerging public health threats, the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress developed this guide.