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Communicating Radiation Risk

The Power of Planned, Persuasive Messaging

Wieder, Jessica S.1

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000998

Every day, health physicists and physicians are expected to communicate effectively with concerned people, but rarely (if ever) are they given training on how to effectively communicate. In an age of social media, this paper presents the relevance of teachings from an ancient Greek philosopher. Aristotle’s Rhetoric is still considered one of the most influential works on persuasive messaging. He puts the onus of effective communications on the people with the “true” and “just” information to communicate that information clearly to the audience. By communicating with intention—using the persuasive appeals of ethos, pathos, logos, and storytelling—radiation professionals can speak to their expertise in radiation science, while adapting their instructions, presentations, and communication styles to meet the needs of each type of audience: from scientists to concerned citizens, from doctors to first responders, and beyond.

1US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

For correspondence contact the author at US Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Av NW, Mail Code 6608T, Washington, DC 20460, or email at

(Manuscript accepted 13 September 2018)

© 2019 by the Health Physics Society