Family Stress theories and risk communication to evaluate and build family resilience
In this activity, students use theoretical knowledge about family stress theories to analyze family vignettes. After discussing each family's level of normative and non-normative stressors, the students make predictions about the level of risk or resilience each family might have should a natural disaster occur. Additionally, each student group proposes risk communication strategies to increase family preparedness. These applications are then integrated with risk communication literature.
- Experience a variety of family stress levels through case analysis and application of theoretical knowledge. This will also enhance group work.
- Better understand key publics and how to communicate with these about natural disaster risks.
- Create risk communication strategies based on these individual cases.
- Integrate risk communication strategies from class with those proposed in the risk communication literature. Goals 2-4 should develop critical thinking skills, data analysis, and inductive and deductive reasoning.
Context for Use
In the prior class, family stress theories were discussed, specifically focusing on Boss (2002) contextual approach to family stress and the double ABC-X model. In class we discussed the differences between "risk" conceptualized in family stress theories, "risk" in communication studies, and "risk" from a scientific perspective. Special emphasis was placed on the power of an individual's risk perceptions to motivate action. However, as people rarely experience natural disasters in isolation, family stress theories were introduced to better understand how publics make sense of stressors in everyday life as well as in traumatic situations.
Description and Teaching Materials
The class will be divided into four groups. All students will have read the family profiles. In each group the students will now work together and answer the questions for their specific vignette. Each group will share the results with the class. The class will discuss the vulnerabilities of each family and the potential risks each family might face in case of disaster. To increase family resilience, each group will share risk communication strategies. After discussing the potential usefulness of the communication strategies proposed, the instructor integrates the finding into risk communication literature and best practices. The students will review this literature in preparation for the next class.
Family Vignettes (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 141kB Apr10 14)
Teaching Notes and Tips
- What type of a non-normative stressor or natural disaster did the family face?
- Using both the contextual approach to family stress and the double ABC-X model, explain the impact of the stressor.
- Do you recall any risk communication? Evaluate what you remember using the guidelines discussed in class.
References and Resources
Covello, V. T. (2003). Best practice in public health risk and crisis communication. Journal of Health Communication, 8, 5-8.
Figley, C. R. & Barnes, M. (2005). External trauma and families. In P. C. McKenry, & S. J. Price (Eds.), Family & Change. Coping with stressful events and transitions (3rd Ed., pp.379-402). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
McCubbin, H., & Patterson, J. (1983). The family stress process: The double ABCX model of family adjust- ment and adaptation. Marriage and Family Review, 6(1–2), 7–37.
Renn, O. (2010). Risk communication: Insights and requirements for designing successful communication programs on health and environmental hazards. In R. L. Heath & H. D. O'Hair (Eds.), Handbook of risk and crisis communication (pp. 80-98). New York, NY: Routledge.
Reynolds, B., & Seeger, M. (2014). Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication 2014 Edition. CDC. https://emergency.cdc.gov/cerc/resources/pdf/cerc_2014edition.pdf
Witte, K. (1994). Fear control and danger control: A test of the extended parallel process model (EPPM). Communication Monographs, 61, 113-134.