Risk definitions - risk research is done in multiple disciplines; but is it multidisciplinary?:

Gabriele Berg-Beckhoff, Peter Wiedemann, Balazs Adam, Kristian Breum Ølgaard, Pernille Tanggaard Andersen, Steven Ndugwa Kabwama, Jesper Bo Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalConference abstract in journalResearchpeer-review


The aim of the project was to assess the definitions of hazard,
risk, and their assessment used in different scientific disciplines
and to give examples of the potential implications in the
scientific discussions as well as in risk communication.
The following disciplines were involved: public health,
psychology, environmental health, occupational health, engineering,
sociology and medicine. From each discipline a
scientist was asked to present their own views on the given
topics. Questions were developed together to get comparable
responses from participants.
Result: The surprising result was that, when working together,
pre-given major differences disappeared. Hazard is an adverse
event or condition, mostly expressed in qualitative terms. For
most risk definitions probability and severity are both
important aspects and often a quantification of risk is desired,
whereas risk perception is seen as a subjective appraisal and a
cognitive construct.
Risk perceptions are based on a combination of knowledge and
individual values and affects; therefore risk perceptions may
not provide a reliable guidance for risk management decisions
on a societal level. The subjective and value laden risk
perception raises the question how to objectively assess risk,
in spite of the fact that the hazard may have been established.
Main messages
Discipline differences are small and mainly connected to the
usage of terminology and interpretation of key concepts. For
dealing with controversies in science, a common terminology
and standardized and transparent risk assessment framework
are important.
Key message
Differences in risk definitions between disciplines are small
and mainly connected to the usage of terminology.
Common terminology and standardized and transparent
risk assessment are important
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue numbersuppl 3
Pages (from-to)405
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventEuropean Public Health Conference - Milano Congressi (MiCo), Milano, Italy
Duration: 14. Oct 201517. Oct 2015
Conference number: 8th


ConferenceEuropean Public Health Conference
LocationMilano Congressi (MiCo)


Bibliographical note

Eur J Public Health (2015) 25 (suppl 3): ckv176.086

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