Helping public health agencies improve emergency risk communication

Elena SavoiaA recent article featured on the HSPH news site highlights the work of Elena Savoia, a principal research scientist in the Department of Biostatistics and deputy director of the Emergency Preparedness, Research, Evaluation & Practice Program (EPREP). EPREP is a preparedness program started in 2002, right after September 11, with initial funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It has evolved into a portfolio of national and international workforce development activities around key capabilities that governments need to respond to large-scale emergencies, such as pandemics, hurricanes, and terrorism.

In the article, Savoia touts the benefits of “prebunking” in dealing with public health emergencies – that is, educating people against misinformation before it becomes widespread. This proactive action combined with the practice of valuing people’s emotional experiences and concerns will help give them tools to critically appraise what they’re hearing or seeing . For more on Savoia’s ideas about building communication and trust in public health, particularly during the time of the COVID pandemic, check out the article here.