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Communicating Environmental Risk in Multiethnic Communities

Communicating Environmental Risk in Multiethnic Communities

December 2003 | 272 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

9/11. Tornadoes. Emergency preparedness. Whether explaining parts per million to a community exposed to contaminated groundwater or launching a campaign to encourage home carbon monoxide testing, an effective message is paramount to the desired result: an increased understanding of health risk.


How people interpret and respond to risk messages related to potential immediate or long-term environmental danger is largely influenced by such factors as age, ethnicity, community, and proximity to the health risk in question. Communicating Environmental Risk in Multiethnic Communities is the first book to address the theory and practice of disseminating disaster warnings and hazard education messages to multiethnic communities. Authors Michael K. Lindell and Ronald W. Perry introduce theory-based reasoning as a basis for understanding warning dissemination and public education, devoting specific attention to the community context of emergency warning delivery and response. Through these principles of human behavior, readers can apply risk communication information to virtually any specific disaster agent with which they may be concerned.


The authors review a variety of theories of emergency decision-making and develop a Protective Action Decision Model (PADM) as the foundation for understanding citizen response to both emergency and educational communications. Combining risk theory with practical application, Communicating Environmental Risk in Multiethnic Communities examines the research literature and identifies the important factors that affect people's decisions to comply with warnings. The authors present a review of a range of public education campaigns for different types of hazards.


This volume is recommended for practitioners in private emergency management and federal, state, and local governments, as well as students studying risk communication, health communication, emergency management, and environmental policy and management. 


1. Risk Communication, Culture, and Ethnicity
Risk Communication in Environmental Hazard Management

Risk Communication, Ethnicity, and Culture

2. Theoretical Bases of Risk Communication
Social Influence

Theories of Behavioral Evaluation and Choice

Theories That Integrate Social and Cognitive Processes

The Protective Action Decision Model

3. Disaster Warnings as Risk Communication
Protective Action Decisions

Situational Influences on Disaster Response

Warning Compliance and Spontaneous Response

Warning Multiethnic Communities

4. Hazard Awareness as Risk Communication
Household Hazard Adjustment Decisions

Situtational Influences on Hazard Adjustment

5. Approaches to Influencing Hazard Adjustment Adoption
The Context of Evnironmental Risk Communication

Risk Communication During the Continuing Hazard Phase

Risk Communication During an Escalating Crisis or Emergency Response

About the Authors


"The authors have extensive practical and research experience in catastrophic event management of both natural and technological hazards, and cite their research findings throughout the book. This is both a guidance document for practitioners and a research compilation. . . . The book includes an extensive list of well-chosen references."

Key features
  • The first book to combine theory of risk communication with practical applications.
  • A three-part analysis that considers how ethnicity and other social characteristics affect how messages are communicated and perceived.
  • Useful for both practitioners (federal, state, and local environmental managers) and students of risk communication, health communication, environmental policy and management, and emergency management.

For instructors

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