impact of language and cognition on compliance during a natural
Improving communication with people affected by
The Leverhulme Trust
University of East Anglia
Health Protection Agency
2008 - Sept 2010
The UK Water
Industry Act (1991; amended by the Water Act 2003) states that water companies
must only supply water that is fit for human consumption (Section 70) and that
if a breach of the drinking water standards occurs, they must take appropriate
action. Such action naturally includes investigating the breach, its cause, its
likely effect on public health and restoring standards. They must also decide
whether consumers need be informed about the breach, including whether special
advice needs to be issued. If public health is threatened, the three standard
notices that could be issued are: 'boil water', 'do not drink' and 'do not
July-August 2007, some 140,000 households lost their drinking water supply due
to flooding of the Mythe water treatment works in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.
By investigating the Mythe incident, we can explore how and why professionals
and the public differentially understand and communicate about risks and their
prevention. The combination of conventional research methods with a new
cognitive linguistics approach allow use to include a more comprehensive range
of potential factors. In particular, the largely ignored role of language will
be established. In conjunction with stakeholders, this project ultimately aims
to offer new and improved water notices.
PROJECT PRESENTATIONS, REPORTS AND ARTICLES:
presented the results from this study at the Health Protection Agency
Conference, September 2009, Warwick, UK,
the American Public
Health Association Annual Meeting & Exposition, November 2009,
the Society for Risk
Analysis-Europe conference, June 2010, London, UK,
Communication, Medicine and Ethics conference, June 2010, Boston,
the 3rd UK Cognitive
Linguistics Conference, July 2010, Hertfordshire, UK.
TRANSFER WORKSHOP WITH WATER INDUSTRY
King's College London and the
Drinking Water Inspectorate jointly hosted a Knowledge Transfer Workshop on the
13th October 2010 at KCL's Waterloo campus, as part of this project. This event
featured talks from academics and communications professionals from the water
industry and wider stakeholders, discussing a wide range of recent
communication challenges. Copies of workshop presentations are available here.
G., Knapton, O., and Hunter, P. 2010. Communication, perception and behaviour
during a natural disaster involving a Do Not Drink and a subsequent
Boil Water notice: a postal questionnaire study. BMC Public
Health 10:641. [This article was on the shortlist for the
5th BMC Annual Research Award in Medicine for 2010].
Knapton, O., and Rundblad, G. 2014. Public health in the UK media: Cognitive Discourse Analysis and its application to a drinking water emergency. In Hart, C. and Cap, P (eds.), Contemporary Studies in Critical Discourse Analysis, 559-582. Bloomsbury Press.
Rundblad, G., Knapton, O., and Hunter, P. 2014. The causes and circumstances of drinking water incidents impact consumer behaviour: comparison of a routine versus a natural disaster incident. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 11(11): 11915-11930.
Copies of articles are available here.
A copy of the final project report is available here.