Srinagar: Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Wednesday said good communication is crucial to defeat the novel coronavirus.
“The consequences of an outbreak depends on the effectiveness of communication,” said DAK President Dr Nisar ul Hassan.
“During an unfamiliar public health emergency, anxiety is a normal human reaction to the fear of unknown. Fear is a potentially dangerous driver of behavior that can prolong or hasten the spread of disease. Fear can do more harm than the virus itself,” he said.
Dr Nisar said beyond the facts and figures, in a health crisis communicators need to be sensitive to people’s fears and worries on a human, emotional level.
“Communicators need to show empathy and care while communicating that builds trust which improves willingness of people to comply with the recommended measures,” he said.
“They have to help people understand what is about to unfold keeping it simple and communicating what people need to know,” he added.
Dr Nisar said it is important to recognize that what is communicated is just as important as how it is communicated.
“Clinicians must understand that many words that seem perfectly normal to them are incomprehensible jargon to a lay audience,” he said.
“It has been observed that clinicians provide mixed messages about the level of the threat virus poses which creates confusion among people and breeds distrust,” he added.
Dr Nisar said when the communication is done well, it helps in quelling people’s worries and fears.
“If it is done poorly, people will not absorb the information they need,” he said.
Dr Nisar said communication expertise is essential to outbreak control, and effective communication is an intervention in its own right.
“It is important to realize to include communication experts in the pandemic management team and they should be doing most of the talking,” he said.
“A 2019 study found that audiences felt reduced anxiety, increased sense of control and greater trust in public agencies in response to messages delivered by officials who were trained in communication skills,” said Dr Nisar.
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