The effect of communication during mass decontamination

Carter, Holly, Drury, John, Rubin, G James, Williams, Richard and Amlot, Richard (2013) The effect of communication during mass decontamination. Disaster Prevention and Management, 22 (2). pp. 132-147. ISSN 0965-3562

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Abstract

Purpose – Reports from small-scale incidents in which decontamination was conducted suggest that
a successful communication strategy is vital in order to increase public compliance with, and reduce
public anxiety about, decontamination. However, it has not been possible to examine public behaviour
during large scale incidents involving decontamination. The aim of the research reported here was to
examine the relationship between people’s positive perceptions of responding agencies’
communication strategies and relevant outcome variables, such as level of compliance and level of
reassurance, in several field exercises involving mass decontamination.
Design/methodology/approach – Data were collected using feedback questionnaires completed by
simulated casualties, which contained items relating to casualties’ perceptions of the success of
responding agencies’ communication strategies, their confidence in emergency responders, and their
compliance with the decontamination process. Path analysis was used to examine the relationships
between variables.
Findings – Results show a significant relationship between responding agencies’ communication
strategies, level of public reassurance, and level of public compliance. The relationship between
responders’ communication strategies and the outcome variables was partially mediated by public
confidence in responders.
Practical implications – Emergency responders should focus on communication with members
of the public as a key element of the decontamination process, as failure to do so could result in high
levels of anxiety and low levels of compliance among those who are affected.
Originality/value – This research highlights the importance of effective responder communication
strategies. Further, findings indicate the value of examining feedback from field exercises in order to
facilitate a greater understanding of public experiences of the decontamination process.
Keywords Decontamination, Communication, CBRN, Exercise

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
Related URLs:
Depositing User: John Drury
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2013 08:36
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2013 08:36
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/45400

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