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Participants: HPA, Kings College London, DIALOGIK and the European Commission under the FP7 programme.
Prevention of and Fight Against Crime 2007
Financial support from the Prevention of and Fight Against Crime 2007 Programme
European Commission - Directorate-General Home Affairs
Sponsors: HPA, Kings College London, DIALOGIK and the European Commission under the FP7 programme.

Public intentions and information needs after biological and radiological terrorism

Project Overview

The PIRATE project is an EU-funded initiative that has sought to gain a better understanding of how the EU public would respond during a CBRN terrorist attack. The project partners – the UK Health Protection Agency, King’s College London and DIALOGIK (University of Stuttgart) - have sought to inform the preparation of risk communication strategies for two terrorism-related risks: the deliberate release of smallpox and the use of a radiological device hidden on a commuter train by terrorists hoping to irradiate passengers (a ‘radiological exposure device’). In a series of three linked studies, we have identified likely perceptions of and reactions to these scenarios among the British and German publics, we have quantified these perceptions and reactions and explored the association between them in population surveys, and we have devised and tested messages intended to inform people about the risks associated with these threats and to encourage them to adopt behaviours that might be recommended by public health officials.

The methodology of the PIRATE project provides a useful framework for public health communicators who wish to design and pre-test messages for specific risks. The PIRATE project has shown that to ensure that risk communication strategies are maximally effective, the iterative and time-consuming process of designing, testing and revising communication materials must begin before a major incident occurs. The outputs of the PIRATE project will directly inform such strategy development activities for the two CBRN scenarios and other related threats. The project also establishes a framework for developing communication strategies to other emergency scenarios.

Download a summary of the outcomes of the PIRATE project