Health and Risk Communication (PUBH5422)


In this unit, students will develop a critical awareness of the determinants of effective communication, particularly in relation to health risks to the individual and to society. The first half covers individual health risk communication in clinical settings, including: theories of health communication, patient centred care and shared decision making; evidence-based communication skills; research paradigms including interaction analysis; cross-cultural communication in health care; discussing prognosis and informed consent. The second half explores risk communication for public health, ranging from managing outbreak situations to low risk / high concern issues such as immunisation. We teach theories of risk perception and communication with particular application to public health incident responses. We give practical guides to media messages, risk message framing, public engagement, traditional and social media, and the ethical aspects of public communication. The unit offers students the opportunity to learn from outstanding guest lecturers who work in these areas and interactive opportunities for students to try their skills in risk communication and decision making.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


Block/intensive 2 x 9-5 full days + 3 x 9-5 full days; please check with the coordinator for scheduling


Assignment 1 x 3000 word (50%), Assignment 1 x 2000 words (35%), online activities (15%). Attendance at intensives is compulsory and 80% attendance is required to pass the unit of study.


Students are provided with a list of readings (in digital format). Most supplementary readings can be accessed through the library or online.

Faculty/department permission required?


Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.