Dr Max Lum

Senior Advisor, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Dr. Lum was responsible for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s initiatives in health communication, media relations and the Institute’s international program portfolio for over fifteen years until his retirement in 2011. He currently serves as senior advisor to the Office of the Director, on e-communication and research translation issues. Dr. Lum began his career as a White House Fellow serving as a technical writer and community involvement specialist and served as the Director of Health Education, ATSDR-CDC before coming to NIOSH. Max’s academic training from the University of Southern California was focused on communication practice within the medical education program.


Even though nations and organizations were confronted with global health emergencies before such as SARS (2003), H1N1 (2009), and Ebola (2014-2015), many seem to have forgotten the lessons learned on developing fit-for purpose protocols for risk management and communication to protect and care for concerned populations. The COVID-19 crisis reminds us once again that a complete understanding of the basic principles of crisis communication response are essential, and lessons learned from previous events and disruptions are key for protecting citizen’s health and safety and preserving business continuity. The pandemic above all is a wake-up call that our well being is closely tied to the health of the planet. We must accept a hard lesson-markets depend on the health of our citizens and the natural environment. Markets cannot succeed in failing societies. There is not strong evidence that explaining the science of disease can directly change behavior, let alone habits (NASEM, 2016)* The key reasons people do not do things they should are cognitive preferences for old habits, forgetfulness, following the path of least inconvenience, applying politically motivated reasoning, and most importantly seeking information to confirm pre-existing beliefs. This presentation is designed to assist decision makers to identify communication strategies for increasing adherence to protective behaviors that can mitigate the spread of disease and features selected lessons derived globally from the COVID-19 response inclusive of the following: Pre-crisis: communication preparation and training Crisis response: communication response to the crisis Post-crisis: highlights to better prepare for the next crisis and application lessons learned to fulfill commitments made during the crisis response phase *NASEM (National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine) (2016). Science Literacy: Concepts, Contexts, and Consequences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Sponsor - 3M Australia


Monday 30th Nov Day 1

Crisis Communication in the Pandemic Era: The Five Common Missteps

Sponsor - 3M Australia