Developing and Maintaining Public Trust During and post-COVID-19: Can We Apply a Model Developed for Responding to Food Scares?

Julie Henderson, Paul R Ward, Emma Tonkin, Samantha B Meyer, Heath Pillen, Dean McCullum, Barbara Toson, Trevor Webb, John Coveney, Annabelle Wilson

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48 Citations (Scopus)
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Trust in public health officials and the information they provide is essential for the public uptake of preventative strategies to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. This paper discusses how a model for developing and maintaining trust in public health officials during food safety incidents and scandals might be applied to pandemic management. The model identifies ten strategies to be considered, including: transparency; development of protocols and procedures; credibility; proactivity; putting the public first; collaborating with stakeholders; consistency; education of stakeholders and the public; building your reputation; and keeping your promises. While pandemic management differs insofar as the responsibility lies with the public rather than identifiable regulatory bodies, and governments must weigh competing risks in creating policy, we conclude that many of the strategies identified in our trust model can be successfully applied to the maintenance of trust in public health officials prior to, during, and after pandemics.
Original languageEnglish
Article number369
Number of pages7
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2020 Henderson, Ward, Tonkin, Meyer, Pillen, McCullum, Toson,Webb, Coveney and Wilson. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. Nouse, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


  • trust
  • COVID-19
  • pandemic management
  • prevention
  • risk communication


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