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SAMRISK-2-Samfunnssikkerhet og risiko

Fighting pandemics with enhanced risk communication: Messages, compliance and vulnerability during the COVID-19 outbreak

Alternative title: Risiko-kommunikasjon i pandemier: Budskap, etterlevelse og sårbarhet knyttet til utbruddet av COVID-19.

Awarded: NOK 5.0 mill.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, we have observed considerable variations in how national governments have communicated with their citizens. While home country has thereby made a significant difference to people?s pandemic vulnerability, we know from previous research that other social factors can prove equally important. The purpose of PAN-FIGHT is to identify any correlations between risk communication and individual vulnerability during the COVID-19 outbreak. We intend to map the authorities? risk communication practices in Norway, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom between March and December 2020 ? meaning from when Europe ?locked down? to the commencement of mass vaccinations. Further, we will investigate how different population groups in these countries have translated risk communication messages into adjustments of their daily routines. In addition to nationality, we will pay particular attention to the significance of gender, as well as factors such as age, income, cultural background, household composition and home location. Based on our findings, we will develop recommendations for new risk communication strategies that are socially, culturally and geographically sensitive. Throughout the project, we will consult with national, local and professional authorities in the five above-mentioned countries. They will provide information on their COVID-19 communication practices and express their needs for new knowledge. As key stakeholders, they will also assist our study by providing feedback on the practical applicability of project outputs. As future pandemic pathogens may be much more sinister, this project aims to improve the ability of authorities to reach different population groups and thereby strengthen health-related emergency preparedness at local, national as well as international levels.

The PAN-FIGHT project will investigate political and social dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic, by addressing health risk communication in relation to social and cultural dynamics. We will offer new knowledge on how national and local authorities as well as health institutions can enhance their risk communication to mitigate social vulnerabilities. In so doing, we will contribute to improved preparedness, resilience and societal safety. The COVID-19 pandemic provide an unprecedented opportunity for governments, researchers, health systems and the population at large to assess their resilience and improve preparedness. Future pandemic pathogens can be much more sinister. Of paramount interest in this context is how national and local authorities communicate with their citizens about risks associated with the COVID-19 virus. National and local variations in risk communication appear to have triggered similarly varied reactions in the general public, with subsequent impact on vulnerabilities conditioned by social and cultural differences. Bringing together some of Europe and the United States’ most competent researchers on risk communication, societal safety and health emergencies, this project will a) investigate to what extent national variations in authorities’ risk communication strategies can be linked to the ways in which members of the public adhere to governmental guidelines, requirements and restrictions; b) identify any correlations between risk communication, adherence, and factors such as social capital, age, gender, socio-economic status and household composition; and c) translate this knowledge into internationally aligned, evidence-based, and culturally sensitive risk communication strategies. The greatest risk to this project is the COVID-19 pandemic itself, with unpredictable health effects on those involved and possible prolonged restrictions on mobility and personal contact. We will counteract the latter with a robust digital infrastructure.

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SAMRISK-2-Samfunnssikkerhet og risiko