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Center for Public Health Preparedness

Risk Communication for Community Health Centers

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Risk Communication is a science-based approach for communicating effectively in high concern, high stress, emotionally charged or controversial situations. This course provides an overview of the principles and practices of risk communication and practical ways to use these concepts to better communicate in an emergency situation.


The course is intended for clinicians and managers in community practice sites who might interact with the public or with the media during a public health emergency. This might include community-based physicians, nurses, advanced practice nurses, physician assistants and others working as staff members in such facilities as community health centers, long-term care facilities, and assisted living facilities.


After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Describe risk and crisis communication goals, principles, target audiences, techniques, and tools for high stress/high concern situations.
  • Describe why emotions and values often take precedence over logic and fact in an emergency, and how to address these issues by using well-tested risk communication principles.
  • Describe the steps in creating risk and crisis communication message maps.
  • Describe what makes a good messenger.
  • Describe steps to take when working with small groups, community gatherings, or the media.

Technical Requirements

This course is built to XHTML 1.1 specifications. A modern web browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox is required to view the pages.


Originally launched March 12th, 2008


Estimated time for this course is 2 hours


Free and open to the public


The course was created by Tim L. Tinker, DrPh, MPH, Widmeyer Communications and the Consortium for Risk and Crisis Communication; Sebrena Sawtell, MBA, Widmeyer Communications; and Vincent Covello, PhD, Consortium for Risk and Crisis Communication.


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