have an important effect on the message received by consumers. This effect should be carefully tested in the design phase.

Finally, Figures 7-8a and 7-8b illustrate the use of color to highlight information that is important to specific target populations. Figure 7-8a is a color version of Figure 7-6a. Seafood choices containing levels of methylmercury that exceed recommended safe intakes for females who could become pregnant, are pregnant, or are lactating, and for infants and young children and that should be avoided by these groups are shown in red. White (albacore) tuna is shown in yellow to indicate that consumption should be limited to 6 ounces per week for these at-risk population groups. Figure 7-8b, a color version of Figure 7-7, uses the same color scheme to emphasize choices for these groups.

The sample graphics presented here do not include a representation of uncertainty. Uncertainty can be represented with additional symbols (e.g., adding error bars), text or numbers, or with variations on the original graphic (e.g., by fading out the ends of the bars in a bar chart to indicate uncertain values or quantities. A consumer right-to-know perspective suggests that agencies are obligated to report or reveal uncertainties to interested consumers, and should strive to do so as transparently as possible. Representing uncertainty explicitly has the potential to improve decision-making (Roulston, 2006); failure to communicate uncertainty can increase public distrust (Frewer, 2004). However, testing is essential, as explicit representation of uncertainty can have unanticipated effects (Johnson and Slovic, 1995, 1998).

Given the weaknesses in the data underlying current conclusions on benefits and risks, strengthened collaboration between federal agencies appears to be an important goal for development of improved seafood consumption guidance. A federal advisory committee is one mechanism that could be used to coordinate across agencies.

In addition to collaboration between agencies, collaborating with nontraditional partners can assist federal agencies not only with dissemination of guidance, but with design and formative evaluation by engaging relevant target populations and providing a privileged relationship with them through the partnering organization. There are large networks of health care providers including but not limited to federal agencies that dispense daily advice on health and wellness and recommendations for medical care to broad segments of the population, including groups at high risk for poor health outcomes (SOURCE: http://www.healthfinder.gov). There are many opportunities to communicate benefit and risk information to at-risk population groups; a dramatic increase in immunization rates for children achieved in the mid-1990s illustrates one successful effort (CDC, 1996). A coordinated and tailored approach to individual consumer decision-making would have utility in working with federal agencies and other public health providers.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement