UBC Undergraduate Research

Educating Scientists on Risk Communication in a Public Health Emergency Sidhu, Puneet


The Centre for Blood Research-School of Biomedical Engineering (CBR-SBME) Summer Studentship Program 2021. Abstract: Risk communication and health policy are two important parts of a public health response, especially in an emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic. Educating scientists on health policy and the best practices of risk communication can provide them with beneficial skills for translating their work and research into effective communication for a variety of audiences. Scientists themselves require these skills to ensure that different audiences are accurately informed of evidence. However, scientists working on research relevant to public health emergencies are not traditionally taught about health policy and risk communication. In this project, a review of literature on risk communication was performed in conjunction with interviews of policy professionals and health researchers. From this, the three main goals and six best practices for risk communication for scientists were identified. Finally, this research was then translated into a risk communication and health policy lesson plan for undergraduate and graduate students. The lesson plan includes an explanation of health policy, investigation of risk perception, best practices of risk communication, and finally an analysis of COVID-19 risk communication strategies used in British Columbia. This project highlights the importance of educating young scientists on risk communication and health policy in public health emergencies to ensure the effective communication of evidence.

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