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Improved risk communication during pandemics

The PAN-FIGHT project studies how to fight pandemics with enhanced risk communication. Messages, compliance and vulnerability during the COVID-19 outbreak are central themes.

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About the project

Supported by the Norwegian Research Council's extraordinary programme for corona research


Project is lead by Associate Professor Kristin S. Scharffscher

It remains important to analyse the social dimensions of how risks around COVID-19 are governed in cases of uncertainty, how preparedness discourses are enacted, and how risk is communicated.

Professor Mathilde Bourrier

How can the authorities best communicate with the population during a pandemic? (Photo: Kristin Scharffscher)

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, we have observed considerable variations in how national governments have communicated with their citizens. While home country has thereby made a significant difference to people’s pandemic vulnerability, we know from previous research that other social factors can prove equally important.

The purpose of PAN-FIGHT is to identify any correlations between risk communication and individual vulnerability during the COVID-19 outbreak. We intend to map the authorities’ risk communication practices in Norway, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Further, we will investigate how different population groups in these countries have translated risk communication messages into adjustments of their daily routines.

In addition to nationality, we will pay particular attention to the significance of gender, as well as factors such as age, income, cultural background, household composition and home location. Based on our findings, we will develop new risk communication strategies that are socially, culturally and geographically sensitive.

Throughout the project, we will consult with national, local and professional authorities in the five above-mentioned countries. They will provide information on their COVID-19 communication practices and express their needs for new knowledge. As key stakeholders, they will also assist our study by providing feedback on the practical applicability of project outputs.

As future pandemic pathogens may be much more sinister, this project aims to improve the ability of authorities to reach different population groups and thereby strengthen health-related emergency preparedness at local, national as well as international levels.

Work packages

The project consists of five separate, but interconnected work packages (WPs).

WP 1: Comparing Governmental / Public Health Authorities’ Risk communication strategies


Professor Mathilde Bourrier, University of Geneva 


  • Professor Geir Sverre Braut (Stavanger University Hospital)
  • Professor Ann Bostrom (University of Washington) 


  • Post-doctoral Research Fellow Emma Comrie (University of Stavanger)
  • Post-doctoral Research Fellow Michael Deml (University of Geneva)
  • Associate Professor Evangelia Petridou (Mid Sweden University)
  • Associate Professor Jörgen Sparf (Mid Sweden University)
  • Associate Professor Kristin S. Scharffscher 

WP 2: Comparing compliance 


Professor Frederic E. Bouder, University of Stavanger


  • Professor Ragnar Lofstedt (King’s College London)
  • Professor Baruch Fischhoff (Carnegie Mellon University)


  • Post-doctoral Research Fellow Matan Shapiro (University of Stavanger)
  • Post-doctoral Research Fellow Minna Lundgren (Mid Sweden University)
  • Associate Professor Kristin S. Scharffscher (University of Stavanger)

WP 3: Gendered dimensions of pandemic risk communication


  • Associate Professor Hande Eslen-Ziya, University of Stavanger


  • Professor Anna Olofsson (Mid Sweden University), Professor Odd Einar Olsen


  • Post-doctoral Research Fellow Sanjana Arora (University of Stavanger)
  • Associate Professor Sissel Haugdal Jore (University of Stavanger)
  • Associate Professor Kristin S. Scharffscher (University of Stavanger)

WP 4: Comparative study and recommendations


  • Professor Siri Wiig, University of Stavanger


  • Professor Ortwin Renn (Dialogik)
  • Adjunct Associate Professor Jacob Kringen (Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection)


  • Post-doctoral Research Fellow Olena Koval (University of Stavanger)
  • Post-doctoral Research Fellow Claudia Morsut (University of Stavanger)
  • Professor Ole Andreas Engen (University of Stavanger)

WP 5: Management, communication and dissemination


  • Associate Professor Kristin S. Scharffscher, University of Stavanger


  • Professor Odd Einar Olsen (University of Stavanger)
  • Professor Ann Bostrom (University of Washington)


  • All researchers, post-doctoral research fellows and international collaborating scientists


The Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (DSB)

The Norwegian Medicines Agency

County Governor of Agder

Stavanger municipality

Stavanger university hospital (SUS)

Carnegie Mellon University, USA

Dialogik gemeinnützige Gesellschaft für Kommunikations- und Kooperationsforschung, Sveits

Mid Sweden University, Sweden

University College London (UCL), UK

University of Geneva, Switzerland

University of Washington, USA