Communicating the threat of emerging infections to the public

Emerg Infect Dis. 2000 Jul-Aug;6(4):337-47. doi: 10.3201/eid0604.000403.


Communication theory and techniques, aided by the electronic revolution, provide new opportunities and challenges for the effective transfer of laboratory, epidemiologic, surveillance, and other public health data to the public who funds them. We review the applicability of communication theory, particularly the audience-source-message-channel meta-model, to emerging infectious disease issues. Emergence of new infectious organisms, microbial resistance to therapeutic drugs, and increased emphasis on prevention have expanded the role of communication as a vital component of public health practice. In the absence of cure, as in AIDS and many other public health problems, an effectively crafted and disseminated prevention message is the key control measure. Applying communication theory to disease prevention messages can increase the effectiveness of the messages and improve public health.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communicable Disease Control*
  • Communication*
  • Health Education / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mass Media*
  • Public Health