Risk Communications and Research Ethics during Pandemics


As of this writing, as the COVID-19 epidemic continues to rage, health data has started to cascade from research papers, official health ministries, and volunteer and tech groups. This has provided an unprecedented opportunity for data analysts, data scientists, and researchers to conduct analysis and derive insights as countries go into lockdowns and quarantines. At the same time, communications and updates from official health ministries and governments have come under pressure from media and a worried public, both desperate for updates on how to stem the growing count of infected cases and deaths.

It is against this bleak backdrop that we need to understand the role that effective risk communications and ethical research plays in helping society understand the epidemic, craft solutions, and also manage vital information.

We had a great pilot podcast last night with more 200 signups in just 24 hours. Unfortunately we could only accommodate an audience of 100 but here is the recorded conversation full of insights. Thank you to our guest panelist, International Health Communications Specialist, Dr. Jason Ligot, as he joined our Data Ethics crew: Carlo Almendral, Dominic Ligot, and Nick Tobia to talk about a timely topic. Thank you to everyone who attended and hope to see you again in future podcasts!

Some key discussions included:

  • Hazard: Mortality and morbidity
  • Managing outrage
  • Communication effects: Cognitive, Affective, Behavioral
  • Novelty of COVID-19
  • Communicating in an era of mobile and social
  • Mental distress and info overload
  • Data people and civil society
  • Context vs. Curve Fitting
  • Data and Media Amplificiation
  • Ethical Framework
  • Is it factual? Is it truthful? Is it helpful?
  • Social media and ethical disclosure

Our guest panelist was Dr. Jason Ligot,  International Health Communication Specialist and Director at Organic Intelligence. The discussion was also be moderated by our Data Ethics PH crew: Carlo Almendral, Dominic Ligot, and Nick Tobia.

About Our Guest Panelist

ayz_ligotDr. Jason Ligot is an international health communication specialist with experience working in health promotion, mental health, tobacco control, non-communicable diseases, newborn health, violence and injury prevention, and environmental health.

He has undertaken projects and assignments in over 15 countries for local and international health organizations, national government agencies, non-government organizations, civil society, and educational institutions. These projects include convening high-level conferences, conducting workshops, and overseeing multi-country communication and advocacy campaigns. Dr Ligot holds degrees in psychology and medicine, graduating with distinction, and has edited or contributed to scientific articles and technical publications on health promotion, health literacy and communications. He received his advanced training in public health at the University of the Philippines.

See some of Dr. Ligot’s recent discussion on communications and COVID here:

See you there.