Archive for the ‘Association of Health Care Journalists’ Category

Guidance on the release of information concerning deaths, epidemics or emerging diseases

August 3, 2011 Comments off

Guidance on the release of information concerning deaths, epidemics or emerging diseases
Source: Association of Health Care Journalists

A set of recommendations emerged from a meeting of public health officials, health care journalists and public health information officers, co-sponsored by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, the National Association of County and City Health Officials and the Association of Health Care Journalists in October 2010. A draft was circulated to ASTHO members, NACCHO and the AHCJ board, and their comments were incorporated.

The meeting was prompted by the wide variation in information released by state and local public health officials about people in their localities who died in the H1N1 pandemic of 2009. The disparate approaches – with some jurisdictions releasing specific information about the age, gender and residence of victims and others releasing little or no personal information – became the subject of news reports, distracting from health messages and inadvertently undermining public trust.
Below are voluntary guidelines for journalists and public health officials to consult when decisions must be made about what information should be released about deaths, epidemics, emerging diseases or illnesses. These guidelines are deliberately flexible so they can be adapted to each case, local circumstances and local regulations. At the same time, the groups agreed that a common set of information should, with rare exceptions, be released in these situations.

A unique aspect of this process was that journalists were involved in developing the guidelines and agreed to promulgate ethical standards, calling on their peers to respect privacy and attend to context.


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