Pilot assessment of an experiential disaster communication curriculum

Daniela B. Friedman, India D. Rose, Alexis Koskan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to assess the effectiveness of a disaster preparedness communication curriculum for public health graduate students' understanding and use of communication strategies for reaching vulnerable groups with preparedness messages. Design/methodology/approach: A training module was piloted in a health communication seminar in 2008 (n=9 students) and 2009 (n=15 students). The interactive module included lectures, videos, case study discussions, and disaster plan and message development. Students gave presentations to a panel of risk communication specialists from the university and state health department. Findings: Analysis of Likert-type pre/post-survey items showed significant improvement in students' knowledge about disaster communication and confidence regarding use of communication principles to develop clear messages (p&0.05). In response to open-ended questions, students reported enjoying the "practical experience of developing messages" and learning the "importance of media and health professionals working together". Research limitations/implications: This pilot evaluation involved a relatively small sample of students. Although students were assured that all survey responses would remain anonymous, social desirability may have played a role in their written responses. Practical implications: The educational module appears to be effective in engaging public health students in disaster communication strategies for reaching vulnerable populations. Studying effective communication strategies well before a disaster situation occurs will help to anticipate community-specific communication needs and reduce concern. Originality/value: The instructional approach and content developed could be adapted for training health care and public health professionals to communicate effectively in planning for and responding to disaster situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)238-250
Number of pages13
JournalDisaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Disaster preparedness
  • Graduates
  • Health and risk communication
  • Information strategy
  • Public health
  • Risk management
  • United States of America

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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