No heat, no electricity, no water, oh no! an IDEA model experiment in instructional risk communication

Bengt Johansson, Derek R. Lane, Deanna D. Sellnow, Timothy L. Sellnow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Instructional communication is a vital component of the risk communication process. Without adequate instruction, individuals are less likely to understand, value, and follow guidelines for protecting themselves and their loved ones. The IDEA model (internalization, distribution, explanation, and action), applied successfully in crisis communication, has shown promise for use in instructional risk communication, as well. More specifically, it may address challenges that have plagued risk managers for decades regarding how to promote effective risk preparedness decisions in the midst of uncertainty and lack of understanding about perceived risk relevance. This study tested the effectiveness of the IDEA model for designing instructional messages in a risk preparedness campaign in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden. The campaign was designed to enhance citizens’ preparedness in case of a crisis where the supply of heat, water, and electricity would be out for three days. A post-test only quasi-experimental cross-sectional survey research design conducted on data collected from 1876 survey participants revealed that citizens viewing a message adhering to the IDEA model components (treatment) had significantly more comprehension (i.e. cognitive learning) and found the message significantly more relevant and useful (i.e. affective learning) than those viewing a status quo (control) message. Practical applications and suggestions for future research are also provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1576-1588
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Risk Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • IDEA model
  • Instructional communication
  • risk communication
  • risk perception
  • risk preparedness campaigns

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Social Sciences (all)
  • Engineering (all)
  • Strategy and Management


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