Public Health Crises

Authored by: Lindsay Neuberger , Ann Neville Miller

The Routledge Handbook of Health Communication

Print publication date:  September  2021
Online publication date:  September  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367488956
eBook ISBN: 9781003043379
Adobe ISBN:


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Effective communication is essential before, during, and after public health crises such as hurricanes, oil spills, or COVID-19. When crises threaten public health, decades of communication scholarship can provide guidance regarding which sources should share what messages and when. This chapter provides an overview of the current state of public health crisis communication before explaining three primary types of public health crises (infectious diseases, natural disasters, human-caused disasters), overviewing relevant theories (e.g., crisis and emergency risk communication model, chaos theory), and providing recommendations for future research. This information can help readers better understand strategies for engaging diverse stakeholders to co-construct messages that can help mitigate risk and reduce negative health consequences from public health crises.

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