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Environmental and Health Communication Research

Chess, Caron
Rutgers University
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  1. To investigate how audiences respond to environmental risks and emerging environmental and health issues such as bioterrorism, genetic engineering, watershed management, electromagnetic frequencies, food safety, incineration, ground water quality, etc;
  2. To investigate how various communication efforts about environmental issues affect the understanding of various audiences (i.e., ways in which environmental indicators are interpreted by the media, environmentalists, and the public);
  3. To develop case studies that generate hypotheses and lessons to be learned from the environmental communication efforts of government and industry;
  4. To investigate the role of public participation in public responses to health and environmental issues, the ways to improve such processes, and the ways to encourage the public, government, and industry to participate in constructive processes;
  5. To investigate factors that contribute (or impede) effective environmental communication and/or public participation efforts (such as internal organizational factors);
  6. To investigate emerging issues in the field of risk communication and environmental communication more generally, and to assist in making that research useful to practitioners in government, industry, educational institutions, and public interest groups;
  7. To develop publications and conduct other methods of outreach to improve environmental communication efforts and to facilitate dialogue among those constituencies that are integral to environmental problem solving such as government, industry, environmental groups, and affected communities.
More information
NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: The need for increasing and improving communication about environmental and health problems among government, industry and community groups is recognized as a barrier to progress. The proposed research and outreach activities aim to provide recommendations for and facilitate improvement of environmental and health communication. The resulting recommendations from this research will inform training programs for public health practitioners and provide New Jersey officials with practical lessons for communicating about potential bioterrorist attacks.

APPROACH: Qualitative data, background documentation, and interviews with a variety of personnel will be collected and analyzed to assess the accuracy of self-reports and to seek convergent information while being able to take note of discrepant information. Regarding public perception of a range of environmental issues, survey of "general public", specialized constituencies, or communication professionals will be conducted. In addition, the PIs use a variety of quantitative approaches including survey research. Because we investigate public perception of a range of environmental issues, we often conduct surveys of the "general public," specialized constituencies, or communication professionals. All survey research goes through standard phases of development of testable hypotheses, development of survey instruments, outside review of surveys, pilot testing, mail or telephone implementation, data input, and data analysis.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
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Education and Training
Natural Toxins
Viruses and Prions
Bacterial Pathogens
Chemical Contaminants
Risk Assessment, Management, and Communication