Integrating Strategy and Dosage: A New Conceptual Formula for Overcoming Unintended Effects in Public Health Crisis Communication (PHCC)

Xuerong Lu (PhD alum) and Yan Jin. (forthcoming). “Integrating Strategy and Dosage: A New Conceptual Formula for Overcoming Unintended Effects in Public Health Crisis Communication (PHCC).” The Handbook of Crisis Communication (2nd edition) (Eds. W. T. Coombs and S. J. Holladay), Wiley-Blackwell.

Abstract: Lu and Jin provide insights into public health crisis communication (PHCC) by reconceptualizing how we think about the concept of dosage. The chapter extends the notion of dosage from the amount of exposure to publics’ engagement over time in a competitive and conflicting media environment. Lu and Jin delineate a new direction in PHCC by formulating the effect of crisis communication strategy and dosage according to a chemical analogy of solution concentration (i.e. strategy) and volume of solution (i.e. dosage). First, this chapter visualizes PHCC as a neutralization process, in which the base solution (i.e., PHCC strategy and dosage) to neutralize the harm caused by the acid solution (i.e., a public health crisis). Second, this chapter further analogizes the PHCC as the base solution consisting of a solute dissolved into a solvent, where the solute is the message strategy (e.g., emotional appeal) and the solvent is the carrier of the message similar to messengers and channels. Lu and Jin define the concept of PHCC dosage as the volume of “base solution,” which will influence the effectiveness of the neutralization (i.e. PHCC). This new conceptual framework, illustrated with recent public health crisis cases, helps explain PHCC (in)effectiveness. Lu and Jin also provide a theoretical foundation for empirical studies that examine and predict how both the strategy and dosage of a crisis response message might exert intended and/or unintended effects among publics confronted with information clutters and desensitized by previous and/or ongoing crisis situations. The chapter explores new possibilities for research and application of PHCC.

Xuerong Lu  Yan Jin 

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