Mission and Vision

The Center for Health and Risk Communication provides an important organizational framework for stimulating innovative health and risk communication research collaborations, health promotion intervention projects, and community interventions. Health and risk communication are topics of great interest and expertise within the Department of Communication with growing research and education programs at Mason in this area.The goal of the Center is to promote excellence in effective evidence-based health and risk communication policies and practices to enhance health outcomes locally, regionally, nationally, and globally by:

  • facilitating unique health and risk communication research and educational collaborations among faculty, students, and community partners;
  • providing faculty, staff, and student researchers, and scholars with resources, advice, and the infrastructure they need to establish and conduct important health and risk communication research and educational project to effect wide-reaching impact;
  • creating opportunities for Mason to shape public policy and to contribute to promoting public health and well being;
  • establishing a recognized contact point for advancing health and risk communication projects and partnerships;
  • providing information to relevant publics about the programs, faculty, and students focusing on health and risk communication scholarship

The establishment of the CHRC paralleled the development of innovative new health and risk communication graduate programs at both the MA and PhD levels within the Department of Communication, as well as the development of a strong cadre of distinguished faculty scholars with expertise in health and risk communication. Department faculty have received increased national and international recognition for their scholarship and growing external support for health and risk communication research and educational activities from a variety of government agencies and private foundations.

Active research collaborations have been established with leading health and safety scholars across George Mason University and many other national and international research centers. The Department has served as host for several distinguished international health and risk communication scholars who have engaged in collaborative research while at Mason. The CHRC also hosts important meetings and conferences including the DC Health Communication (DCHC) Conference, Community Health Summits, Public Health Roundtables, and Health Promotion Workshops.

The CHRC helps to connect the Department of Communication with a number of relevant external constituencies outside the university, such as the National Cancer Institute (NCI’s) Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch, the NCI Cancer Information Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the AHRQ’s John M. Eisenberg Clinical Decisions and Communications Science Center, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Risk Communication Advisory Committee, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Society for Health Communication, and a number of other important federal agencies and private foundations that the Center has collaborated with. 

Health and risk communication are important interrelated areas of study and application. Health communication examines the communication processes central to the delivery of health care and promotion of health, including health care provider consumer interactions, informed health care decision making, the provision of social support, the development and implementation of health promotion campaigns, and the uses of media and information technologies within the health care system. Risk communication examines strategic communication concerning serious health and safety risks to relevant publics, government officials, and first responders, including media management, risk prevention, preparation, and response to health and crisis situations.