In this letter to the editor, scholars recommend three strategies to improve communication about public health outbreaks.
Drawing from communication research, the authors offer best practices for reducing misinformation, disseminating accurate information, and promoting prevention and control recommendations. Three strategies to utilize include:
- Acknowledge uncertainty: honesty about what is known and what is unknown at each stage of an epidemic is a critical component of transparency that will increase trust
- Contextualize statistics: to mitigate excessive anxiety pair personal, community, or national risk with concrete, evidence-based actions to reduce risk
- Resist misinformation: counter prominent false narratives while promoting reliable sources of health information, and avoid propagating misinformation
Adhering to these three recommendations when communicating with the public, the media, and other audiences will improve communication about COVID-19 from the initial crisis through the resolution of the pandemic.