The JMSC has been awarded a one-year  research grant by the World Health Organization to investigate whether cultural differences in Asia have any impact on the effectiveness of  communication with the public during infectious disease outbreaks.

Thomas Abraham

Thomas Abraham

Associate Professor Thomas Abraham of the JMSC, who leads the centre’s health risk communication programme, said the study will help explain why risk communication advice is interpreted and implemented differently across Asian countries.

Abraham, who was involved in the development of the present WHO risk communication guidelines, said that most of the guidelines had been developed in the context of the United States or Europe.  “This study is one of the first in Asia to identify how global health communication plans can integrate local experience and expertise to provide more effective communication responses to emerging infectious disease outbreaks,” he said.

“It’s also very topical because, as Ebola has shown us, the threat of infectious diseases is always present, and these types of diseases can travel to the rest of the world.”

The study will be conducted in China, Hong Kong and Vietnam, countries that have experienced important infectious disease outbreaks in recent years – SARS in the case of China and Hong Kong, and avian flu, which devastated poultry flocks in Vietnam.

The study will seek to identify differences in the way present global guidelines are interpreted in these countries.  It will will also develop recommendations for ways the WHO can incorporate local experience and expertise into its global health communication plans.

Jamie Wardman

Dr Jamie K. Wardman, a JMSC research fellow involved in the development and implementation of the project, said the study will highlight just how important effective communication can be in managing the outbreak of infectious diseases.

“We often tend to think about controlling disease outbreaks in terms of pharmaceutical interventions, medicines and vaccines,” Wardman said. “But very often the most important intervention is communication.”

Wardman joined the JMSC in July 2014 as a research fellow, focusing on the reporting and communication of risk and its impact in different political and cultural contexts. He is the managing editor of the academic publication Journal of Risk Research.

November 11, 2014

JMSC gets WHO grant to study cultural effect on risk communication

The JMSC has been awarded a one-year World Health Organisation (WHO) research grant to investigate whether cultural differences in Asia can impact the effectiveness of global health risk communication plans.
May 31, 2013

Conference Registration Now Open – Communicating Infectious Diseases

Registration is now open for the Communicating Infectious Diseases Conference, sponsored by the Journalism and Media Studies Centre. The conference, which marks the tenth anniversary of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) pandemic, will take […]
January 26, 2013

European Health Communicators Trained by JMSC Master of Journalism Director

“Communication saves lives and that, really, is what this course is about”, said Thomas Abraham, the director of the JMSC’s Master of Journalism programme. Abraham was describing a health communication training course he taught with […]
November 23, 2012

Global Health Programs Fail to Meet Real Needs warns JMSC Master of Journalism Director

Global health programmes aimed at specific diseases fail to meet the broader health needs of the local communities they have been set up to help, according to the Director of the JMSC’s Master of Journalism […]