COVID-19 Longitudinal Risk Communication Working Group


    Working Group Background

    Current knowledge about longitudinal risk communication is built on the acute onset or singular experience events. This suggests public health risk communicators are unprepared to think about the protracted nature of this pandemic.  We will focus on identifying the issues and strategies to balance between steady-state and emergent threat communication with COVID communication needs. Drawing from expertise in these areas, the COVID-19 Longitudinal Risk Communication: Identifying Issues and Strategies Working Group will identify longitudinal research and strategic planning needs for public health communicators.

    This Working Group will convene calls of state, county and local leaders, experts, and providers from public health, government, health care, community civic groups, and others to identify knowledge gaps, needs, and concerns related to longitudinal risk communication given the current public health crisis. Within these calls, the group will facilitate relationship-building, information and resource sharing, and co-learning to fill knowledge gaps to inform policies, procedures, and planning. The Working Group will focus on 6 topics:

    • Attention                                                                                                                                                 
    • Motivation 
    • Trust, Connection, and Credibility in a Hostile and Socially Fragmented Communications Environment
    • Communication Content Relevant to Chronic, Lingering Health Threats
    • Diversity of Culture and Vulnerability
    • Organizing for Communicative Sustainability 

    Note: This COVID-19 Working Group effort is supported by the National Science Foundation-funded Social Science Extreme Events Research (SSEER) Network and the CONVERGE facility at the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado Boulder (NSF Award #1841338).

    Check out the COVID-19 Longitudinal Risk Communication: Identifying Issues and Strategies Working Group Research Agenda-Setting Paper which was written to help advance convergence-oriented research in the hazards and disaster field. It highlights areas where additional research could contribute new knowledge to the response to and recovery from the pandemic and other disasters yet to come. 

    Project Team Members
    Jeannette Sutton - University at Albany (SUNY)

    Jeannette Sutton, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity. Dr. Sutton specializes in disaster and risk with a primary focus on online informal communication, and public alerts and warning disseminated via terse messaging channels. Much of her research investigates the evolving role of information and communication technology, including social media and mobile devices, for disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.

    DeeDee Bennett - University at Albany (SUNY) 

    DeeDee Bennett, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity. Her research areas include emergency management, socially vulnerable populations during disasters, emergency communications, disaster policy, and mobile wireless communications. Dr. Bennett has secured several internal and external research grants from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Homeland Security. Her work is published in various journals and she has presented at several conferences related to emergency management, disability, wireless technology, and future studies. Her previous appointments include Assistant Professor and Director of the Emergency Management and Disaster Science program at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) and Research Scientist at the Center for Advanced Communications Policy at Georgia Institute of Technology.

    Dr. Bennett received her Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University in Fire and Emergency Management. In addition to bringing expertise in emergency management, she has a unique academic background having received both her M.S. in Public Policy and B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

    Elisabeth Dubois - University at Albany (SUNY)

    Elisabeth Dubois, MBA is a Information Science PhD Student in the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity (CEHC). She is the Director of Marketing & Strategic Initiatives for The Global Child and a Graduate Assistant with CEHC. Her research interests include emergency preparedness, primary and secondary education, public health, and societal diversity. Most recently, she has investigated how gender influences STEM, how education bridges the digital divide, and how COVID-19 has affected education among diverse populations.

    Meghan Moran - John Hopkins University

    Meghan Moran is a health communication scholar studying how health information can best be communicated to individuals in different contexts and through different channels. She studies both micro-level processes of persuasion and social influence, as well as the more macro-level health communication that occurs in society. She is particularly interested in how media and pop culture influence health. Tobacco control is the primary context in which she has focused my research. Moran's first on-going project in this area, funded by a K01 award from NIDA/FDA, examines how persuasive marketing tactics used in tobacco ads influences youth tobacco use. Her second on-going project examines how tobacco use varies by youth peer crowd/subculture and how tobacco use prevention interventions can leverage peer crowds to develop and target materials. These research areas leverage Moran's expertise in persuasion, message design, media effects and health behavior.  In addition to her work in tobacco control, she studies cancer communication, with a particular focus on cervical cancer and HPV.

    Yonaira Rivera - John Hopkins University 

    Yonaira Rivera is an Assistant Professor of Communication at Rutgers University’s School of Communication and Information. Her research focuses on reducing health disparities and improving the well-being of Latino and underserved communities through health communication initiatives. Her work uses qualitatively-driven, mixed methods and community-based participatory research to study social media health misinformation, cancer control and prevention, and disaster relief. Yonaira received her PhD in Social and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and has been funded by the National Cancer Institute and the Bloomberg American Health Initiative. 

    Monica Schoch-Spana - John Hopkins University 

    Dr. Schoch-Spana, a medical anthropologist, is a Senior Scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and a Senior Scientist in the Department of Environmental Health & Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. She also holds faculty positions at the Department of Anthropology at Texas State University and the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). Her areas of expertise include community resilience to disaster, public engagement in policymaking, crisis and risk communication, and public health emergency preparedness.

    Since 1998, Dr. Schoch-Spana has briefed federal, state, and local officials, as well as medical, public health, and public safety professionals, on critical issues in health security. National advisory roles include currently serving on the Homeland Security Subcommittee of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Resilient America Roundtable of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), and the NASEM Standing Committee on Medical and Public Health Research during Large-Scale Emergency Events.

    Dr. Schoch-Spana has led research, education, and advocacy efforts to encourage authorities to enlist the public’s contributions in epidemic and disaster management. Her studies have been influential in debunking myths about mass behaviors in the context of bioterrorism, reframing the management of catastrophic health events to include social and ethical-moral dimensions, and persuading leaders to share governance dilemmas with the public including how to allocate scarce medical resources in a disaster. She has chaired national working groups to produce peer-reviewed, evidence-based consensus guidance for authorities on how to partner with citizens and civil society in relation to bioterrorism response, influenza pandemic planning, and nuclear incident preparedness, and she has organized 3 national meetings on how to strengthen community resilience to extreme health events.

    From 2003 to 2017, Dr. Schoch-Spana worked at the UPMC Center for Health Security; prior to that she worked at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies, starting in 1998. She received her PhD in cultural anthropology from Johns Hopkins University (1998) and a BA from Bryn Mawr College (1986).

    Tara Kirk Sell - John Hopkins University

    Dr. Sell is a Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. At the Center, she conducts, manages, and leads research projects to develop a greater understanding of potentially large-scale health events. She also serves as an Associate Editor of the peer-reviewed journal Health Security (formerly Biosecurity and Bioterrorism).

    Dr. Sell’s work focuses on improving public health policy and practice in order to reduce the health impacts of disasters and terrorism. Her primary research interests focus on health security: the broad intersection of public health and national security. She studies past responses to public health emergencies to discover ways to improve future preparedness and response. From terrorism to pandemics and natural disasters, she employs mixed methods and multidisciplinary approaches to examine how the public, practitioners, and policymakers prepare for and respond to public health emergencies. In turn, she works to build the evidence base to advance policies and practices to minimize impacts of emergent threats. Though seemingly distinct, these topics are all linked by crosscutting preparedness and response needs critical to the improvement of the field of health security.

    A hallmark of her work is the discovery of scientifically rigorous results while simultaneously interfacing with policymakers, public health practitioners, and the general public to translate research findings into actionable and evidence-based practices. She works collaboratively and purposefully to translate and disseminate findings and recommendations to target audiences in meaningful ways, such as engaging in collaborative work with the CDC to improve public communication or co-developing Event 201, an immersive pandemic scenario to engage new stakeholders such as the private sector in pandemic preparedness.

    Eric Stern - University at Albany (SUNY)

    Dr. Eric K. Stern is a professor at the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity at the University at Albany. Dr. Stern holds a Ph D from Stockholm University and a B.A. from Dartmouth College. He has published extensively in the fields of crisis and emergency management, crisis communication, resilience, security studies, executive leadership, foreign policy analysis and political psychology. He is also affiliated with the Swedish National Center for Crisis Management Research and Training at the Swedish Defense University (where he served as Director from 2004-2011) and the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware. He is currently serving as Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Crisis Analysis.

    Other key areas of interest and expertise include social media and crisis preparedness, post-crisis evaluation and learning, interactive education and instructional design, and case research/teaching methodologies.

    In addition to his scholarly work, Professor Stern has collaborated closely with a wide range of US (e.g. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology, FEMA, Coast Guard, and FBI) and foreign (e.g. UK, Sweden, Switzerland, Estonia, Slovenia, and S. Korea among others) government agencies, the European Union, and the OECD on a wide range of applied research and educational-- including training and exercise development--projects.

    David Turetsky - University at Albany (SUNY)

    David Turetsky is a Professor of Practice at the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity at the University at Albany. He brings more than 35 years of experience, including senior roles in business, government, and law. Immediately before joining the University at Albany, he was based in Washington D.C., where he co-led the cybersecurity, privacy and data protection practice at global law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, and engaged with businesses and industry association clients in diverse industries on a broad range of related legal and policy issues. In addition to winning professional recognition, he serves as a member of the American Bar Association's Cybersecurity Legal Task Force, co-leads the privacy and security working group of the Information Sharing and Analysis Organization Standards Organization created pursuant to an Executive Order issued by President Obama, and was co-chair of the Federal Communications Bar Association's Emergency Preparedness and Homeland Security Committee.

    Before joining Akin Gump, Mr. Turetsky served as a senior leader at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), for most of his tenure as Chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, where he led cybersecurity policy for the FCC, including its public-private efforts and its engagement in Obama interagency cybersecurity work led by the White House and other agencies. He also led the FCC’s efforts regarding emergency communications and related emergency preparedness and homeland security issues, working closely with stakeholders and other government agencies, and oversaw the FCC’s continuity of operations program. He served briefly as Deputy Chief of the FCC’s International Bureau. In business, Mr. Turetsky served as a senior officer of a telecommunications services start-up that he helped to grow and bring public; and twice served as Management Trustee while in private law practice, appointed by federal courts on the recommendation of the Bush Department of Justice, to manage all aspects of mobile wireless service businesses in a total of 20 mostly rural markets under merger consent decrees until those businesses were divested (about 6 months each time). In the Clinton Administration, Mr. Turetsky served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust in the U.S. Department of Justice, with special responsibility for competition enforcement and policy issues affecting regulated industries, in the U.S. and abroad.

    Mr. Turetsky has a J.D. from the University of Chicago School of Law, studied at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and has a B.A., magna cum laude, from Amherst College. He writes and speaks often, and has frequently been quoted in the press.