Investigation of a spontaneous abortion cluster: Development of a risk communication plan

Barbara Curbow, Melissa Anne McDiarmid, Patrick Breysse, Peter S.J. Lees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A risk communication plan was developed for a group of payroll office workers who were investigated for a possible cluster of spontaneous abortions (SABs). Survey and focus group methods were used to assess the workers' attitudes, beliefs, and information preferences. We found that four features of the workforce needed to be considered in developing an effective plan: 1) subgroups of workers varied on their levels of concern, awareness, involvement, and definitions of the problem; 2) workers did not have the necessary knowledge concerning SABs or the scientific method to participate in a two‐way communication; 3) workers were highly stressed; and 4) workers were distrustful that they would be told the truth about the SABs. A multicomponent risk communication strategy was developed to overcome these barriers. Specifically, we recommended that background information on SABs and the scientific method be presented before the report of the study results and that follow‐up sessions should be conducted on job stress and the emotional aspects of miscarriages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-275
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1994


  • abortion risk
  • communication plan
  • hazard
  • payroll workers
  • risk perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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