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Dialog in risk communication

Scientific results on health risks should be presented in a simple and understandable way during the communication procedure to establish a scientific knowledge-base for citizens, politicians, policy makers and journalists. Facts should be supplied in an open and objective manner at an early stage to achieve public acceptance. Government institutions should provide information on limit values (Limits) and safety requirements as well as benefits of the project or introduction of a new technology for the public. These steps may lead to confidence among the population. Openness and neutrality of government institutions and informing agencies are important confidence building factors in the process of gaining acceptance in the public.

The main challenge in knowledge transfer is the preparation of complex facts of scientific publications in such a way that they are generally understandable for citizens. Inconsistencies should also be presented in the results. Hence, uncertainty and inconsistency of the results can lead to a stronger public risk perception. Furthermore, it is important to report the results of all relevant studies, even if the quality of a study is perhaps disputable. Otherwise, the reputation and neutrality of the scientists can be mistrusted. However, the quality characteristics as well as the quality deficits should be reported.

(source: WHO)