Risk communication: lessons learnt from the pandemic

How did the governments of different countries provide information during the COVID-19 pandemic? Which aspects should be emphasised positively? What should be considered and improved in the event of future crises? The international research project “Deciphering the pandemic public sphere” – in short: DECIPHER - is dedicated to answer these and further questions. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and Ilmenau University of Technology are hosting a workshop on 23 May 2024, which will offer contributions on the challenges and future possibilities of risk and crisis communication as well as the opportunity to exchange ideas with international experts. “The  pandemic has shown us how important sufficient information for our society is when exceptional circumstances occur,” says Dr Robin Janzik, DECIPHER project manager at the BfR. “In order to be even better prepared for future crises, we at the BfR are investigating in particular the perception of government communication from the people's perspective.”

From spring 2020 onwards, the coronavirus kept the whole world on tenterhooks for three years. The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to make drastic decisions. Above all, it made it clear that the government has to communicate and inform effectively in order to overcome a crisis of this kind. The interdisciplinary and international research project DECIPHER led by the BfR and TU Ilmenau is investigating which strategies were used by different governments, how the information was received by the media and disseminated on social media, and how the population assessed the information. Existing data and data collected specifically for the study from Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden and the USA are evaluated and compared. The project is funded by the German Research Foundation DFG.

On 23 May 2024, the BfR and the TU Ilmenau invite you to a scientific workshop from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., which will provide information about the project as well as challenges and opportunities in risk and crisis communication and offer a space for international exchange. The venue is the BfR site in Jungfernheide, Max-Dohrn-Straße 8-10, 10589 Berlin. Registration is possible via the BfR website at https://www.bfr-akademie.de/english/decipher-workshop.html.

Further information about the DECIPHER project can be found on the TU Ilmenau website:

For press enquiries on this topic, please contact: pressestelle@bfr.bund.de.

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. The BfR advises the Federal Government and the States (‘Laender’) on questions of food, chemicals and product safety. The BfR conducts independent research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.

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