The Social Sciences

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Research methods commonly used in social sciences are appropriate for studies of how people deal with ‘risk’ and for studies of risk communication. These approaches can be applied to understanding and appraising risk communications about medicines. This chapter reviews appropriateness and potential of social science research methods for this purpose, focusing on:
- qualitative studies (e.g. of experiences of a risk communication, or to create a theoretical conceptualisation or model of a risk communication);
- surveys for studying prevalence (e.g. of health behaviours or attitudes) and correlations (e.g. between communication types and health behaviours);
- (quasi-)experimental studies and intervention trials (for measuring effects of planned risk communication interventions); and
- mixed-method studies (combining features of the above designs).
The chapter explains the main features of these methods; discusses their strengths and limitations; considers examples; and makes suggestions for applying the methods effectively to improve the evidence base on risk communication about medicines. The chapter emphasises the distinctly different types of research question that are appropriate for each of these research designs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCommunicating about Risks and Safe Use of Medicines
Subtitle of host publicationReal Life and Applied Research
EditorsPriya Bahri
Place of PublicationGermany
PublisherSpringer Nature, Singapore
Number of pages47
ISBN (Electronic)978-981-15-3013-5
ISBN (Print)978-981-15-3012-8
Publication statusPublished online - 18 Jun 2020


  • risk communication
  • pharmacoepidemiology
  • pharmacovigilance
  • social science
  • medicines management
  • decision science
  • research methods
  • research appraisal


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