NACCHO has released a new policy statement providing guidance and recommendations for risk communication capacity at local health departments. Risk communication protects the public’s health in high-risk situations through a multidisciplinary, multidimensional approach, and helps guide communications strategies during emergencies and health crises.
NACCHO defines risk communication as the dynamic, interactive process of sharing information strategically and effectively about an issue of high concern to help people cope, make informed decisions, and understand sensitive issues before, during, and after emergencies. Risk communication is historically tied to environmental health, having grown out of efforts conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency in the 1970s.
NACCHO’s policy statement recommends that local health departments prioritize risk communication capacity; employ trained and experienced communications professionals; mind the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness Capabilities 4 and 6; develop a streamlined, cohesive, and internally coordinated approach to communicating with the public; and take a whole community approach to public communication. The policy statement also includes justification for increased funding to help support increased risk communication capacity.
NACCHO positions are determined and approved by the Board of Directors, and developed through member participation in advisory groups. The policy statement development process guides NACCHO’s public health advocacy work. Visit NACCHO’s website for more information about policy and position statements.