In the summer of 2014, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) appointed Dr. Vincent Covello to serve as senior adviser to a WHO emergency committee aimed at Ebola, a virus that threatened to kill millions of people.

Dr. Covello shortly thereafter set up an international conference call to address the crisis. Almost immediately, stakeholder issues came to the fore.

From West Africa, a speaker derided Western medicine and expressed that he did not want to work with neocolonialists. Then a representative from a European nation disparaged West African traditional health practitioners.

Somehow Dr. Covello would have to build trust among the stakeholders and lay the groundwork for constructive dialogue.

This is the case study that opens chapter eight of Dr. Covello’s most recent release, Communicating in Risk, Crisis, and High Stress Situations: Evidence-Based Strategies and Practice.

In this case study, readers will learn the principles of trust, cultures and worldviews that affect risk communication—and which can act as barriers to the saving of lives.

Our previous post previewed the seventh chapter of Dr. Covello’s must-have resource for risk communicators. Below, we’ll look into the eighth chapter, “Foundational Principles: Trust, Culture, and Worldviews.”

What You Find Within

The following are the topics covered in Dr. Covello’s book. In the section that follows, we’ll look more in depth at the eighth chapter.

  • The Critical Role of Risk, High Concern, and Crisis Communication
  • Core Concepts
  • An Overview of Risk Communication
  • Development of Risk Communication Theory and Practice
  • Stakeholder Engagement and Empowerment
  • Communicating in a Crisis
  • Foundational Principles: Perceptions, Biases, and Information Filters
  • Foundational Principles: Trust, Culture, and Worldviews
  • Best Practices for Message Development in High Concern Situations
  • Communicating Numbers, Statistics, and Technical Information about a Risk or Threat
  • Evaluating Risk, High Concern, and Crisis Communications
  • Communicating with Mainstream News Media
  • Social Media and the Changing Landscape for Risk, High Concern, and Crisis Communication

A Peek Inside Chapter 8: “Foundational Principles: Trust, Culture, and Worldviews”

This chapter focuses on the following:

  • Gaining and losing trust
  • The decline in trust in major social institutions
  • Trust determination
  • The ways culture and worldviews affect communication and messaging

As with each chapter, Dr. Covello concludes with an extensive list of resources ideal for further exploration.

In the next entry in this series, we’ll preview the ninth chapter, which covers best practices for message development.

Pathway Prompt: How have you dealt with conflict among your stakeholders?

Communicating Effectively When Feelings, Fears, and Facts Collide

More information about risk, high-concern, and crisis communication can be found in Dr. Covello’s video-based course Pathway to Risk, High-Concern, and Crisis Communication.

This master class introduces communicators to the tools and techniques for communicating effectively—while providing greater insight into why audiences react the way they do during times of stress.

The course comprises nine video lectures and accompanying text modules, plus supplemental materials for putting valuable lessons into practice. More information about the course, including group rates and partnering opportunities, can be found by emailing

Dr. Vincent Covello

Dr. Vincent Covello, director of the Center for Risk Communication, is one of the world’s leading experts and practitioners on risk, high-concern, and crisis communication. He is the author of more than 150 articles in scientific journals and the author/editor of more than 20 books.

Covello, Vincent T. Communicating in Risk, Crisis, and High Stress Situations: Evidence-Based Strategies and Practice. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2022.