Society For Risk Analysis Annual Meeting 2012

Advancing Analysis

Session Schedule & Abstracts

* Disclaimer: All presentations represent the views of the authors, and not the organizations that support their research. Please apply the standard disclaimer that any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations in abstracts, posters, and presentations at the meeting are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other organization or agency. Meeting attendees and authors should be aware that this disclaimer is intended to apply to all abstracts contained in this document. Authors who wish to emphasize this disclaimer should do so in their presentation or poster. In an effort to make the abstracts as concise as possible and easy for meeting participants to read, the abstracts have been formatted such that they exclude references to papers, affiliations, and/or funding sources. Authors who wish to provide attendees with this information should do so in their presentation or poster.

Common abbreviations

Symposium: Cultural Factors in Risk Perception and Communication of Crisis Situations

Room: Pacific Concourse F   10:30 AM - 12 PM

Chair(s): Brooke Rogers

Sponsored by RCSG & SDSG

The relationship between risk perception, risk communication and behaviour has been explored and tested across a variety of man-made and natural, voluntary and involuntary risks for over a quarter of a century. More recently, researchers have taken up the challenge to explore, apply, validate and revise current theory and practice in order to reflect the growing recognition of variations in perceptions of and responses to risks and risk communication within and between cultures. Increasing international dependencies, combined with a global economic crisis resulting in austerity measures targeted at a do it yourself approach to community resilience, indicate that understanding within and between-culture similarities and differences to risk issues is imperative. This symposium will explore the influence of cultural factors on the effectiveness of risk communication in crisis situations. Contributors will deliver national perspectives on discussions of public and practitioner perceptions of and responses to risk within and between national boundaries. Anna Olofsson (Sweden) will apply a sociological perspective, describing her work on cultures within cultures and multiple audiences within nations. She will illustrate the impact of current misperceptions about who is vulnerable and who is not in crises and disasters. Louise Lemyre (Canada) will draw upon psychology and population health studies in order to discuss risk perception and risk communication in immigrant populations in Canada. Social psychologist Julia Pearce (UK) will compare UK and Polish national differences and similarities in healthcare responders’ expectations and public behavioural intentions in response to a chemical incident. Finally, Richard Amlôt (UK) will draw upon the PIRATE project findings in order to explore public responses to smallpox attacks in Britain and Germany. He will bring a practitioners perspective to the symposium via a discussion of work undertaken at the HPA and beyond.

W2-D.1  10:30  Identifying vulnerabilities and communicating risks across cultures within cultures and multiple audiences within nations. Rashid S, Öhman S, Olofsson A*; National University

Abstract: Applying a sociological perspective, this paper focus on risk perception and risk communication and the significance of multi cultural populations and multiple audiences within nations. The paper illustrates the impact of current misperceptions about who is vulnerable and who is not in crises and disasters. Furthermore, previous experience is introduced as an intermediating factor to explain high risk perception and thus vulnerability. The analyses use data from three Swedish national surveys from 2005, 2008 and 2011. The dataset used each year is composed of two representative samples of the Swedish population between the ages of 16 and 75: two national random samples (n=2000 each), and two random samples of people living in areas with a relatively large population of people with foreign background (n=750 each). The results show that risk perception varies between different ethnic groups but that previous experience is a stronger predictor even after controlling for gender, income, education and values. Turning to risk communication, ethnicity is still a strong predictor for which kind of risk communication source people prefer, but previous experience is not as significant.

W2-D.2  10:50  Cultural considerations for risk communication to immigrant populations in Canada. LEMYRE L*, Yong A, Dumitrescu A; University of Ottawa

Abstract: While it is a common preconception that disasters affect individuals equally, research has shown that this is untrue. Indeed, past research has shown that immigrants experience more exposure to hazards as well as bear more negative consequences compared to the native population. A number of pathways can explain these differences and those have significant implications for risk communication aiming at better preparedness and response. Yet little is documented about risk perception and mental models of risk management of newcomers to a country. In an attempt to better understand the relationship between immigrants’ response to specific hazards such as disasters, radiation or pandemic events, data from a national survey was analyzed according to immigration status. This study compared perception of risk, trust, sources of information and preparedness behaviors amongst immigrants, and then compared to Canadian-born respondents. Three representative samples of 1500 adult residents of Canada participated in a phone interview on risk perception and preparedness. Findings show differences in appraisal of risks, trust, sources of information and behaviours, as well as different patterns of prediction between Canadian-born respondents and immigrants. Results suggest different uptakes from risk communications as well as suggest different emphasis in risk communication. Implications for public health and public safety will be discussed.

W2-D.3  11:10  Communicating with the public following a chemical spill: A comparison of practitioner expectations and public intentions in the UK and Poland. Pearce JM*; King's College London

Abstract: Individuals and populations from different countries can have diverse responses to similar crisis situations. As a consequence, although generic guidance exists to help official agencies communicate with the public in the event of an emergency, it may be necessary to tailor advice to the needs of a specific nation population. This paper presents the findings of a programme of research which compared (1) UK and Polish healthcare responders’ information needs, communication practices and expectations regarding public responses during the course and aftermath of a chemical incident, and (2) UK and Polish public levels of trust and predicted behavioural responses to existing emergency response plans and messages. Focus groups with healthcare responders identified some similarities in information needs, communication practices and expectations in each country. However some key differences were also identified in relation to messaging style, willingness to share information and expectations regarding public uptake of recommended behaviours. Online surveys with members of the public also identified some shared features, including parental intention to collect children from school and the role of coping appraisals and trust in determining responses to public health messages. However, consistent with practitioner expectations, our surveys also indicated a large difference between levels of intended compliance in the UK and Poland which should be taken into account when developing crisis communication messages. These findings therefore confirm the importance of adapting generic advice to take into consideration local concerns and likely behavioural responses.

W2-D.4  11:30  Public responses to biological and radiological terrorism in Britain and Germany: A practitioner's view. Amlôt R*; Health Protection Agency, UK

Abstract: The PIRATE project is an EU-funded initiative that has sought to gain a better understanding of how the EU public would respond during a CBRN terrorist attack. Led by the UK Health Protection Agency with two academic partners, King’s College London and DIALOGIK (University of Stuttgart), we sought to inform the preparation of risk communication strategies for two terrorism-related risks: the deliberate release of smallpox and the use of a radiological device hidden on a commuter train by terrorists hoping to irradiate passengers (a ‘radiological exposure device’). Drawing on a number of case examples of the response to public health emergencies on a national and international scale, this paper will consider the strengths and limitations of research using hypothetical scenarios and public engagement to inform emergency preparedness and response activities. Insights gained from aligning research with emergency preparedness training and exercises for responding agencies will be considered, along with those aspects of real incidents that are rarely anticipated and provide considerable challenges for communicators. The PIRATE project provides a useful framework for those who wish to design and pre-test messages for specific risks. The PIRATE project has shown that to ensure that risk communication strategies are maximally effective; the iterative and time-consuming process of designing, testing and revising communication materials must begin before a major incident occurs. The outputs of the PIRATE project have informed such strategy development activities for the two CBRN scenarios and other related threats. The project also establishes a framework for developing communication strategies to other emergency scenarios.

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