Crisis communication

While risk communication is ongoing, crisis communication is a reactive communication effort in the face of an unforeseen event. It is often unpredictable and unexpected, develops suddenly, takes uncontrolled course and evokes uncontrollable reactions.

An open, honest, and ongoing interaction with the audience remains essential to successful communication during crisis.  Focus is kept on the message, the time of its announcement and the media used, and some common advice to improve include: 

  • Do not allow a delayed reaction; 
  • Do not abandon pro-active action or allow for no action at all; 
  • Do not allow lack of preparedness to communicate in a crisis; 
  • Do not ignore the needs and expectations of the mass traditional media; 
  • Do not allow for lack of communication with external partners and stakeholders; 
  • Do not allow lack of internal communication in health systems and organisations; 
  • Do not allow information chaos; 
  • Do not play down the complexity of audience diversity; 
  • Promote careful elaboration and proactive planning of potential actions related to crisis communication as a crucial element in eliminating the unexpected characteristic of a crisis and probably prevent it or at least avoid its uncontrolled course;

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Preparedness and response against diseases with epidemic potential in the European Union: A qualitative case study of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and poliomyelitis in five member states

Jul 2018 - BMC Health Serv Res - 18(1):528

Kinsman, J., Angrén, J., Elgh, F., Furberg, M., Mosquera, P.A., Otero-García, L., Snacken, R., Derrough, T., Carrillo Santisteve, P., Ciotti, M., Tsolova, S.

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Development of a public health emergency preparedness competency model for European Union countries

Jan 2018 - Euro Surveill. - 23(49):1700631

Stoto, M.A., Savoia, E., Nelson, C., Piltch-Loeb, R., Guicciardi, S., Takacs, J., Santos, C.V., Ciotti, M.

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Risk communication as a core public health competence in infectious disease management: Development of the ECDC training curriculum and programme

Jan 2016 - Euro Surveill. - 21(14)

Dickmann, P., Abraham, T., Sarkar, S., Wysocki, P., Cecconi, S., Apfel, F., Nurm, Ü.


Measles and rubella elimination: communicating the importance of vaccination

Technical report -

​The goal of this project is to support EU Member States in their fight against measles and rubella. This report should enable Member States to engage in effective, evidence-based risk communication.


A literature review on effective risk communication for the prevention and control of communicable diseases in Europe

Literature review, Technical report -

This review brings together the current body of literature on risk communication (focused on communicable diseases) in a concise reference document which can be used to inform the development of evidence-based risk communication strategies and approaches.


A literature review of trust and reputation management in communicable disease public health

Literature review, Technical report -

For public health organisations involved in communicable disease control, trust and reputation management is vital. In the event of a disease outbreak these organisations need to be seen as a credible source and must communicate messages to calm public fears. Yet to date there has been little focus on this issue within health communication.