Tampa notes #2

Apr 12, 2007

Just out of the luncheon keynote by CDC Director Julie Gerberding, who spoke mainly about emergency risk communication. Her talk was one of the best presentations I’ve ever sat through — she’s got to be one of the most credible government officials in our country, and she spoke with experience, knowledge and an amazing presence. I felt like I was in a university seminar with a dynamic professor.

Gerberding started with a mention of her morning CDC media briefing on food safety, and she challenged us to do this:

  1. Read all the press coverage about that briefing.
  2. Read the transcript (will be posted at the link above later today), or listen to the briefing.
  3. Read the initial MMWR report (not yet posted).
  4. Reflect on how well the CDC’s message was reported by the media to the public. There was laughter when Gerberding mentioned that that message included “farm to table” but also the recommendation that doctors need to culture more stool samples.

Her rules for emergency risk communication:

  1. Be empathetic. Doctors with good bedside manner are the best health communicators, she said. “When I’m faced with a difficult press briefing, I’m not like those who try to picture everyone in the audience naked, but instead I try to imagine them as a patient I’m talking to.”
  2. Be first. The first person sets the tone.
  3. Be right. NY City Mayor Rudy Guiliani is a master of risk communication, and he surrounded himself with experts.
  4. Be credible. Credibility is like trust account that has to be kept up.

For more about risk communication, see the CDC’s curriculum.

Looks like CDC.gov is getting a new design next week.

During lunch, I sat next to Rachel Schreiber and Jamie Freishtat, the two ebullient physicians behind the MommyDocs podcast.

Anton Zuiker

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