World Health Organization Taps UCF Team for Health Help

The next time there’s an international health crisis, such as an Ebola outbreak or spread of the Zika virus, communication with the general public should be better, thanks to the recommendations of a University of Central Florida research team.

According to a release from UCF, the team from the Nicholson School of Communication conducted research to come up with best practices for communicating during a global health threat. 

The World Health Organization sponsored the research and reportedly will use the team's recommendations to guide its efforts. 

This is the first time a UCF team has conducted research for the international health organization responsible for building a healthier future for people all over the world. 

The fundamental finding was that emergency risk-communication training should include a focus on coordinating federal, state, local and community agencies and personnel. 

And the training should include an emphasis on dealing with the media, including specifically the need for contingency press statements and talking points to ensure all agencies involved are sharing consistent information, and are presented in a manner that is sensitive to the needs and comprehension level of the audience.  

The particular challenge in a global-health crisis is the lack of existing networks established within and among the organizations impacted. 

The team concluded that establishing these relationships in advance of a crisis would result in more efficient outreach.

The team presented the recommendations to the WHO during a guideline-development group meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, in February and its findings were published in the Journal of Health Communication in June.


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