Informing and educating the public about risk

Risk Anal. 1986 Dec;6(4):403-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.1986.tb00953.x.


The objective of informing and educating the public about risk issues seems easy to attain in principle, but, in practice, may be difficult to accomplish. This paper attempts to illustrate why this is so. To be effective, risk communicators must recognize and overcome a number of obstacles that have their roots in the limitations of scientific risk assessment and the idiosyncrasies of the human mind. Doing an adequate job of communicating means finding comprehensible ways of presenting complex technical material that is clouded by uncertainty and inherently difficult to understand. The problems may not be insurmountable, however, if designers of risk information programs are sensitive to the difficulties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude*
  • Communication
  • Health Education*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent
  • Mass Media
  • Probability*
  • Risk*
  • United States