issues in health communication

Prefer Kansas City Mo. area

Do some independent research to identify and locate a recent case or event involving risk and/or crisis communication in response to a public health issue or threat. Briefly summarize the case and describe its relevance (1-2 paragraphs), and identify the response process by which communicators (i.e., government agencies, media, organizations, SMEs, etc.) are addressing the issue.

HINT: Given we are living through the era of a pandemic there should be a rich plethora of organizational responses to draw from


For example, you may want to focus on COVID-19 risk management locally.

Via Christi recently announced on Facebook they were cancelling elective treatments and there were 3 public responses to the post- 1 which showed the capacity in Joplin was restricted to outsiders, and another which indicated there were mixed-messages because Via Christi was still running an advertising campaign inviting people to schedule appointments – both of those posts aren’t publicly available any longer. (at least on my end)

Recognizing how organizations and communities are facing COVID is important. KOAM (10.14.20) reported on the strain on the regional hospital systems and were met with resistance to the validity of the reports, public schools are now allowing exposed students to positive cases to attend class by arriving early and leaving late which is a publicly divisive decision, especially for those who are raised in multi-generational households with at-risk family members.

Below is some discourse from a recent City council meeting published in the Morning Sun during which one Board member exclaimed

“Would it be beneficial if we tried to get a meeting with the other counties to let them know our feelings on this? Because to me it’s bullshit that they’re doing this, and it really upsets me.”

Still, community transmission persists throughout SE Kansas. I’ve recently viewed social media posts on snap chat @ McCarthy’s outdoor area fully packed, no masks, no social distancing during the 2nd weekend of October; while city leaders are seeking outside (external) explanations for why SEK is experiencing COVID the way that it is during this time.(Think back to the OKC bombing initial responses, and attributions of blame). Leaders of the regional health infrastructure are saying ‘we are full’, and transferring patients 2-3 hours away for treatment; while policy makers are looking for outside explanations for why the events are occurring.

You may want to look in a different area- like KC and how their hospitals are managing and responding.

You may want to look at elected leaders and policy differences in the response to a health issue.


When responding to this discussion- understand that you can select any public health case near or far, recent or old…just focus your response on the actors- the risk and crisis communicators (e.g., those with position, authority, responsibility, and expertise)- and evaluate their messaging strategies–Are they communicating a known risk using persuasion and probabilities, or narratives? or Are the leaders deflecting, denying or scapegoating- while issues remain unresolved? Is there consistency among messages on the health issue?

There are several angles that you can take to evaluate the quality of the risk and crisis messages for the health issue that you select. Feel free to be creative!

You will not be evaluated on being wrong or right — you will be evaluated on your critical thought, logical consistency, and the comprehensiveness of your submission.Remember to engage in group discussion with a minimum of two or your peers. If helpful, include hyperlinks to media, social media posts, or screen shots in your response.

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