Responding to Public Health Crises: Bridging Collective Mindfulness and User Experience to Create Communication Interventions

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Publication Date



Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)

Source Publication

Communication Design Quarterly Review

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This paper examines how the cognitive framework of collective mindfulness complements tenets of user experience in public health crisis communication. Collective mindfulness attunes an organization into preemptively identifying and avoiding potential failures that can have adverse safety and public relations outcomes. To illustrate the connection between this cognitive framework and user experience, this article shares findings from a case study with the 2014 Johns Hopkins Medicine Ebola Crisis Communications Team, whose primary goals were to improve the usability of Ebola personal protective equipment protocols and to prepare healthcare providers for a U.S. Ebola crisis. Based on a grounded theory investigation, this article suggests that the collective mindfulness principles of deference to expertise, resilience, and refusal to simplify complex procedures informed the team’s ability to avoid a catastrophic communication failure. Additionally, these principles allowed the team to attune to key user experience principles, including addressing user context and user limitations.


Communication Design Quarterly Review, Vol. 5, No. 2 (July 2017): 29-39. DOI.