June 9, 2015

Health Product Risk Communication: Is the Message Getting Through?

The Expert Panel on Effectiveness of Health Product Risk Communication

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Summary

Risk communication is an important component of improving the health and safety of Canadians. Effective risk communication can protect Canadians from preventable hazards such as medication side effects or errors, product defects, and uncertainties surrounding particular drugs. Pressures on governments for greater openness and transparency in their communication efforts are increasing. There have also been a number of reviews calling for evaluation and improved timeliness, outreach, and accessibility of communications.

Recognizing the importance of continual improvement, Health Canada asked the CCA to examine how the effectiveness of health product risk communications can be measured and evaluated.

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The Question

How can the effectiveness of health risk communications be measured and evaluated?

Key Findings

Health Product Risk Communication: Is the Message Getting Through? synthesizes the available evidence on risk communication, health product risk communication tools, evaluation methods, and barriers and facilitators to effective communication and successful evaluation activities. It is intended primarily as a tool to inform evaluation and decision-making within government departments and agencies responsible for risk communication and interested in improving their efforts. The report may also be of interest to Canadians as they seek to remain informed about how to best communicate, interpret, and understand the risks associated with health products.

Ultimately, evaluation is essential to determine if health product risk communications are effective. Without adequate evaluation, not only is there potential for mistakes, but there is also the risk of missing opportunities to continue to build on proven successes.

  • Recognition of the importance of dialogue and ongoing relationships is prompting a paradigm shift for risk communication.
  • Regulators around the world use similar health product risk communication tools that are not systematically evaluated.
  • Evaluation is an integral part of risk communication and can be supported with institutional commitment and sufficient resources.
  • Careful planning determines relevant evaluation questions, which guide evaluation methods.

Expert Panel

The Expert Panel on Effectiveness of Health Product Risk Communication