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Communicating uncertainty about facts and numbers of COVID-19 with increasing precisions: Results from a national survey in Germany

Author: Wegwarth, O., Wagner, G., Spies, C. & Hertwig, R.
Published in: JAMA Network, 3(12)
Year: 2020
Type: Academic articles
DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.32335

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has exposed scientific uncertainty in its raw form. When facts are uncertain, policy makers and health experts sometimes shy away from communicating scientific uncertainty,1 fearing that the uncertainty will generate mistrust.2 In Germany, for instance, the pandemic-related threat scenarios invoked have sometimes been devoid of uncertainty.3 Nevertheless, presenting uncertain aspects of the pandemic as certain may adversely affect citizens’ trust and compliance with containment measures should those reports later prove invalid.4 We assessed people’s preferences for health communications with varying degrees of scientific uncertainty in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and explore factors associated with the preferred form of communication.

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Connected HIIG researchers

Gert G. Wagner, Dr.

Assoziierter Forscher: Wissen & Gesellschaft


  • Open Access
  • Transdisciplinary