dilluns, de setembre 07, 2009

Swine influenza. Comunicating Risk

Risk perceptions

Risks are generally more worrying if perceived:

· To be involuntary

· As inequitably distributed, some benefit while others suffer

· As inescapable by taking personal precautions

· To arise from an unfamiliar or novel source

· To result from man-made, rather than natural sources

· To cause hidden and irreversible damage with onset many years later

· To pose particular danger to small children or pregnant women or more generally future generations

· To threaten a form of death (or illness/injury) arousing particular dread

· To damage identifiable rather than anonymous victims

· To be poorly understood by science

· As subject to contradictory statements from responsible sources (or even worse, from the same source, or from untrustworthy source.

· Invisible or undetectable, catastrophic, memorable, uncertain, uncontrollable or unethical risk.

Explaining risks: risk comparisons

Comparisons between risks are not always unhelpful. Responsible use of comparative figures requires careful thought.

No single approach or combination of approaches has yet been determined to be the most useful or appropriate under different circumstances. The effectiveness of risk communication efforts vary depending on the subject matter, decision alternatives, intended audience, and other factors.

Examples of risk of death from involuntary risks (warning: use of this data for risk comparison purposes can severely damage your credibility, use with caution).


Risk of death (person/year)


1 in 5,000


1 in 12,500

Struck by an automobile

1 in 16,600

Being murdered

1 in 100,000

Bites of venomous creatures

1 in 5 million


1 in 10 million

Falling aircraft

1 in 50 million