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TODAY news for Thursday, April 6, 2006

School of Public Health news

Conference addresses dealing meaningfully with public during crisis

Peter Sandman, PhD, speaking about communication strategies
Peter Sandman, PhD, talks to the audience about communication strategies.
A conference held recently at Loma Linda University taught approximately 150 participants how to better communicate with the public during moments of crisis and risk.

The LLU office of public health practice and workforce development presented the conference March 14 and 15 at Wong Kerlee International Conference Center, where communication authorities Peter Sandman, PhD, and Deborah Glik, ScD, presented their expertise on the subject.

“This conference aimed to address an issue usually absent in the nation’s collective health science education system—how to speak meaningfully to the public during a time of profound societal stress,” says David T. Dyjack, DrPH, CIH, conference organizer and associate dean for public health practice, School of Public Health.

Dr. Sandman led the conference all day March 14. He is a well-known communication consultant who works with organizations such as the World Health Organization and the National Association of Professional Environmental Communicators. His professional life also includes appointments such as adjunct professor at Rutgers University and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Dr. Glik spoke to the group March 15. She is a professor in the University of California at Los Angeles School of Public Health and director of the UCLA Health and Media Research Group.

Ed Fields, PhD, from Arizona was one of the 150 people attending the conference. Showing great determination, he drove about 12 hours to be here for the event.

“Worth every minute,” he said at the end of the two-day conference regarding his long journey to Loma Linda.

Dr. Fields works as a clinical psychologist with the Indian Health Service in the Navajo Area. The Navajo Area director of emergency preparedness asked him if he wanted to attend the conference. Dr. Fields also works with his local emergency planning committee in Chinle, Arizona.

“I have a special interest in critical incidence stress management, and I thought risk communication was a perfect add-on to that,” Dr. Fields says.

By Heather Reifsnyder

TODAY news for Thursday, April 6, 2006