Final report: Clear Communications and Uncertainty

Clear Communication Index; risk perception; confidence; uncertainty communication; risk communication
First published in EFSA Supporting Publications
4 May 2018
27 April 2018
External Scientific Report

This report presents the results from an exploratory study in 2016 on clear communication of scientific assessment results. It had a specific focus on the communication of scientific uncertainties in EFSA scientific opinions. Qualitative methods were applied to the design and communication of an opinion summary and uncertainty statements related to that opinion, and to collect evidence on how different stakeholder groups responded to them. The study tested the Clear Communication Index (CCI) tool, using it to elaborate a simplified opinion summary and then seeking stakeholder views on the latter. The study then focused on stakeholder views on uncertainty statements, and particularly on (i) whether and how the information was understood, (ii) how uncertainty information influenced risk perceptions and (iii) confidence in EFSA, and (iv) which uncertainty information was useful to stakeholders and how. The study as a whole involved the use of desk research, questionnaires, and focus groups. It engaged representatives of five stakeholder groups ‐ political decision‐makers, technical decision‐makers, industry, NGOs, and the informed public. Findings indicate that the CCI tool/approach may be applicable to EFSA's communication materials and may help improve clarity of message. The study provided insights on uncertainty communication at EFSA and how it may be received, understood, and used by EFSA's audiences. Given the exploratory nature of the study, further research with larger samples of consultees is needed to assess the generalizability of those insights.

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The present document has been produced and adopted by the bodies identified above as authors. This task has been carried out exclusively by the authors in the context of a contract between the European Food Safety Authority and the authors, awarded following a tender procedure. The present document is published complying with the transparency principle to which the Authority is subject. It may not be considered as an output adopted by the Authority. The European Food Safety Authority reserves its rights, view and position as regards the issues addressed and the conclusions reached in the present document, without prejudice to the rights of the authors.