The expert and the lay public: reflections on influenza A (H1N1) and the risk society

Am J Public Health. 2012 Apr;102(4):591-5. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300417. Epub 2012 Feb 16.


Trust between the lay public and scientific experts is a key element to ensuring the efficient implementation of emergency public health measures. In modern risk societies, the management and elimination of risk have become preeminent drivers of public policy. In this context, the protection of public trust is a complex task. Those actors involved in public health decision-making and implementation (e.g., mass vaccination for influenza A virus) are confronted with growing pressures and responsibility to act. However, they also need to accept the limits of their own expertise and recognize the ability of lay publics to understand and be responsible for public health. Such a shared responsibility for risk management, if grounded in participative public debates, can arguably strengthen public trust in public health authorities and interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Conflict of Interest
  • Decision Making
  • Humans
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype*
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control*
  • Mass Vaccination / ethics*
  • Politics
  • Public Health*
  • Public Opinion
  • Risk Management*
  • Trust