The effect of risk communication on public behavior to non-conventional terrorism—Randomized control trial

Moran Bodas*, Morel Ragoler, Yossi Rabby, Esther Krasner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Non-conventional terrorism (NCT) incorporates an extended dimension of uncertainty that can lead to fear among the public. Health officials have an unsubstantiated assumption that thousands will seek treatment in hospitals following NCT. This study aims to examine public behavioral intentions in the case of NCT and the effect of risk communication on intents. An online randomized controlled trial was conducted among 1802 adult participants in Israel. Threat perception and behavioral intent before and after exposure to hypothetical NCT scenarios were assessed stratified to the type of media, exposure to rumors, and risk communication. The majority (~64%) of participants are aware of the NCT threat. Almost half (45%) of participants indicated a “high” or “very high” chance of seeking medical attention following an NCT incident. Regression analysis suggests that the odds of participants exposed to risk communication to report an elevated intent of seeking medical attention were 0.470 (95% CI: 0.359, 0.615) times that of participants not exposed to risk communication, χ2 = 30.366, p < 0.001. The findings demonstrate the importance of effective risk communication in reducing undesired public behavior during NCT crises. Efforts must be invested to create a robust risk communication infrastructure to allow the proper management of possible NCT incidents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number342
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Behavior
  • Fake news
  • Non-conventional terrorism (NCT)
  • Randomized control trial (RCT)
  • Risk communication


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