Communicating the results of a risk assessment is challenging, because the perception and acceptance of risk are influenced by psychology, values, and fears. Complex technical analysis is used to characterize a personal consequence of exposure, and potential health effects are of real concern to those involved—they’re not an abstract concept or number. In addition, the results of a risk assessment may either confirm or challenge someone’s beliefs or vested economic or ideological interests. Also, while risk assessments are meant to be scientifically objective, the risk assessment process necessarily involves some amount of judgment and uncertainty that must be communicated.
For these reasons, effective communication of risk combines aspects of science, psychology, risk perception, and sociology. ToxStrategies’ risk communication consultants understand this complexity and offer services to improve risk communication. These services include:
- Translation of complex scientific concepts and findings into intuitive and understandable explanations for lay audiences and the media
- Coordination and implementation of public outreach efforts
- Facilitation of meaningful dialogue related to human health risk at public and regulatory agency meetings
- Identification of biases, heuristics, outrage factors, and other psychological and sociological factors affecting perception and acceptance of risk by target audiences
- Development and use of communication tools such as influence diagrams to structure discussions concerning human health risks
- Translation of risk information into potential liability for corporate decision making and shareholder communication
- Using risk communication science to improve jury evaluation, expert reports, and presentation strategies for cases involving environmental and/or health risk
For more information on ToxStrategies’ consulting services in risk communication, please contact us here.