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RIVM risk communication. Information provision according to stakeholders

Risicocommunicatie RIVM. Informatievoorziening volgens belanghebbenden

Synopsis

The RIVM requires a more participative strategy for the communication of risk information. It is important that those presenting research results take greater account of the public's emotions and perceptions. The RIVM also needs to reflect on possibilities to create a risk communication approach with stakeholders that is more open, active and deliberative. These are the findings of a strategic research study carried out by the RIVM (SOR) which surveyed how policy-makers, scientists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), representatives of the media, local health officials and private citizens evaluated the RIVM's approach to risk communication. The findings of this explorative SOR reveal that policy-makers, scientists, local health officials and NGOs would like to be more actively involved in investigations carried out by the RIVM - and at an earlier phase than is currently the case. With such an approach, these organizations and individuals could provide relevant input and enhance the usefulness of the results of the investigations. An additional advantage would be a likely increase in public support for both the scientific findings and the ensuing interventions. The study focused on four topics: air pollution, risk of flooding by rivers, food safety and overweight. Concern for the risk of flooding by rivers was almost non-existent among the respondents. This lack of concern was equally prevalent among the professionals questioned as among the private citizens living in the vicinity of rivers with a flooding potential. Of the respondents, only the private citizens and NGOs showed any concern about food safety, while both the private citizens and professionals were worried about the effects of air pollution. There was a sharp difference in the perceptions of the professionals and private citizens on the lifestyle risk overweight. All of the professionals questioned expressed a worry about this lifestyle risk, while the private citizens were much less inclined to do so. Taken as a whole, the latter group is inclined to believe that the risk of overweight will have an impact on others in society but not directly on themselves.
 

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