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Informing the Public About Health Risks How to Prepare a Press Release

Keywords: communication , public information , health risks , crisis management , prevention , protection , health safety , iatrogenic effects

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Health risks have become one of our society’s main priorities and the various medias often discuss this subject. At first, they lauded scientific and technological progress but soon began reporting accidents, failures and short-comings which were often spectacular and severe. The average citizen has difficulty making sense out of the sundry information available. Information disseminated by the media can transform individual health crises into a collective problem. The real risk involved can either be attenuated or amplified according to the way the message is delivered. Consequently, the quality of the information passed on needs to be improved by encouraging greater cooperation between the different players who supply the public with information: government agencies, institutions, health experts, professional societies and associations, journalists, committees and citizens’ interest groups. Using a number of specific examples, we offer a framework for better understanding and suggest some practical advice: for example, how to prepare and organise a press release intended for newspapers, radio and television. Successful communication will help those responsible for health-care management and average citizens make the most appropriate decisions.


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