Studies of risk communication have identified healthcare providers, especially physicians, as the source of information most trusted by the public on issues of environmental health. Nothing in medical, nursing or most healthcare provider training actually prepares practitioners to play this role and healthcare providers are generally more oriented toward treatment and medical care than prevention and public health. Healthcare providers require education in order to play this role but rarely seek it. Gaps in the knowledge of professional on the issue of Cryptosporidium illustrate the problem. For members of the professional water community, communicating with healthcare providers is best done when messages are delivered in familiar settings, such as hospital Grand Rounds (a universal format for teaching conferences) and provided in a narrative (case-based) form but gaining access is difficult if the topic is not obviously clinical in nature. In addition to being a critically important target group itself, public health professionals are easier to reach and may mediate good working relationships with medical practitioners. We suggest a strategy for water utilities based on partnerships with academic public health and providing education through well-recognized formats in continuing medical and nursing education.

This content is only available as a PDF.