2019 Cambridge Public Health Lecture:
Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter – Communicating Risk & Uncertainty
The 2019 lecture was delivered by Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, Chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication, at 3pm on 21st October 2019. The theme of the lecture was “Communicating Risk and Uncertainty.” It took place at the Li Ka Shing Centre, Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, Cambridge.
Official and media communications to the public about public health are often framed in terms of the risks we face in our daily lives, and what individuals might do to reduce their exposure. But when these risks, say from eating meat or moderate alcohol consumption, are expressed in a transparent way in terms of absolute risks, then they can appear rather negligible from an individual perspective, even if they are important for a population. In addition, the uncertainty in their magnitude can make them even less impressive.
I shall look at how the way in which risks are framed influences their perception, the importance of distinguishing the aims of ‘informing’ and ‘persuading’, the role of measures of the quality of the underlying evidence, and how we might communicate risks and unavoidable scientific uncertainty in a transparent and trustworthy way.
Background to lecture series
This was the 6th edition in our annual Cambridge Public Health Lecture series. Previous lecture speakers include Professor John Ioannidis, Dr Flavia Bustreo, Professor Dame Sally Davies and Dr Julio Frenk.
The annual Cambridge Public Health Lecture series presents an opportunity for public health researchers, policymakers and professionals to come together to hear from public health leaders, and discover and discuss the latest public health research breakthroughs at Cambridge.
Recordings and information about our previous events can be found via the links below. To receive information about our upcoming lecture please join our mailing list.
2018 CIPH annual lecture – by Professor John Ioannidis: Reproducible and useful research for public health and policy decisions
2017 CIPH annual conference – keynote lecture by Dr Flavia Bustreo: Health across the life course – unlocking the potential of women, children and adolescents
2016 CIPH annual conference – keynote lecture by Professor Dame Sally Davies: The (In)Discipline of Public Health
2015 CIPH annual conference – keynote lecture by Dr Julio Frenk: Why public health research matters
2014 CIPH annual conference & keynote lecture by Dr Salim Yusuf: Ageing populations – the public health implications