Preparing for natural hazards: the role of community trust

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Community Safety
TitlePreparing for natural hazards: the role of community trust
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsPaton, D
JournalDisaster Prevention and Management
Pagination370 - 379
Date Published2007
AbstractPurpose – This paper seeks to examine how perception of the relationship between people and sources of information influence hazard preparedness and how trust in civic emergency planning agencies responsible for risk communication influences preparedness decisions. It aims to hypothesize that: familiarity with and information about hazards predicts the relative importance of trust; and that levels of trust are influenced by community characteristics. Design/methodology/approach – A cross-sectional analysis of the relationship between trust and hazard preparedness was conducted. Hypotheses were tested using data on bushfire, volcanic and earthquake hazards. Data were analysed using multiple regression analyses. Findings – The first hypothesis, that situational factors predict the relative importance of trust, was supported. Partial support was forthcoming for the second hypothesis. Collective problem solving and empowerment predicted levels of trust. Research limitations/implications – The findings demonstrated the utility of this multi-level model for the analysis of risk communication and need to accommodate societal-level variables in future risk communication research. The source of information plays a role in risk communication that is independent of the information per se. Practical implications – The relationship between people and civic agencies and the information provided must be accommodated in planning risk communication. The analysis provides an evidence-based framework for the development of risk communication strategies based on community engagement principles. Originality/value – This is the first time this multi-level model has been applied to natural hazards and contributes to understanding the contingent nature of the risk communication process.
Short TitleDisaster Prevention and Management