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Crisis Communication

  • By: W. Timothy Coombs
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Crisis communication is a contextually based and very complex phenomenon. That it is contextual is made apparent by examining the differences among a disease outbreak, a tornado, and management misconduct. All three are crises but create some unique demands for crisis communication.

There are three overarching types of crises: organizational, disaster, and public health. There are connections amongst the three categories (Figure 1). An organizational crisis can be created by either a disaster or a public health crisis. A disaster can trigger a public health crisis and vice versa. In the case of the tsunami and nuclear power event in Japan in 2011, an event can be all three. Though related, separating the three crisis categories allows examination of the similarities and differences amongst the categories; ...

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