"Forebyggelse er mindst lige så vigtigt som helbredelse": Risikokommunikation i forbindelse med SARS pandemien

Camilla Honoré Frederiksen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The main purpose of this thesis is to retrospectively address “if” and “how” the SARS pandemic, particularly based on the outbreaks in China and Vietnam, has influenced and changed the risk communication of World Health Organization (WHO). The theoretical foundation will be based on the globalization theory of Ulrich Beck called “risk society” and the cultural theory and “group/grid model” developed by Mary Douglas. Each theory is used in different methodical ways to support my findings respectively the deductive and the explaining method. The analysis is divided into three different parts centered around WHO’s risk communication before, during and after the SARS pandemic. In the first part, the main findings show that even before the SARS outbreak WHO had already implemented risk communication as a management strategy. The second part demonstrates that due to the SARS outbreaks in China and Vietnam WHO was facing unpredictable challenges of what respectively “good” and “bad” risk communication can result in, ‐ which additionally led to new risk communication strategies and working methods of the organization. Hence WHO together with its member countries had the ability to control the disease. Furthermore the second part also concentrates around the role the mass media plays during pandemics and how they influence the work of WHO with fighting diseases. The third part exhibits the initiatives WHO is making to support and update its risk communication strategy. On the basis of my analysis and discussion I can conclude that the SARS pandemic, particularly due to the outbreaks in China and Vietnam, has directly influenced on the risk communication strategy of WHO and changed the way that the organization today views and works with risk communication to fight diseases. Which among others can be seen in the expansion of the International Health Regulations and the drawing up of the Outbreak Communication Guidelines. This proves that the SARS pandemic is an example of how diseases have become globalized and risk communication should thus be considered as an efficient tool to fight the new risks and challenges they bring. In other words: Prevention in this matter is just as important as an actual cure.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Organizational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2009
Number of pages79