Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An exploration of crisis experience and training as they relate to transformational leadership and rhetorical sensitivity among U.S. public health officials
by Reynolds, Barbara Jane, Ph.D., Capella University, 2009, 183; 3344533
Abstract (Summary)

Major recent crises such as the Anthrax attack of 2001, SARS in 2003, and Hurricane Katrina have focused attention on the role of the public health leader in crisis response, including the communication role. This research study investigated the relationships between past crisis experience, leader training and education, and crisis and emergency risk communication (CERC) training among public health leaders in the United States and their levels of transformational leadership and rhetorical sensitivity. Using a quantitative descriptive methodology, the research study identified relationships and analyzed whether crisis leadership experience, CERC training, and leadership training influenced leadership style and levels of rhetorical sensitivity public health leaders. Study participants were recruited from among persons in current public health leadership roles and the 351 respondents closely matched by demographics the population of interest. Data was collected electronically with participants self-reporting using six questionnaires: 4 descriptive questionnaires (i.e., researcher developed Profile of U.S. Health Department Leaders Questionnaire, Leader Training and Education Questionnaire, Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication Questionnaire, and Crisis Experience Questionnaire) and two standardized scales (i.e., Leadership Behavior Questionnaire [Sashkin, 1996] and Rhetorical Sensitivity Scale II (Hart, Carlson, & Eadie, 1980]). Through SPSS, data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and Pearson Product-Moment Correlation for relationships, unless noted. The results indicated lower levels of transformational leadership and rhetorical sensitivity among the average public health leader in the study group than for leaders of other helping professions used for comparison. The results found a positive relationship between crisis experience and effective communication but no relationship between crisis experience and transformational leader behavior. In addition, there was no increase in rhetorical sensitivity among participants who had attended crisis and emergency-risk communication training. Recommendations included further exploration of rhetorical sensitivity and transformational leadership in the context of a crisis and developing tailored crisis leadership and communication training for public health leaders.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Fischer, Bruce
Commitee: Jarvis, Sara, Santonastasi, Antonio
School: Capella University
Department: School of Psychology
School Location: United States -- Minnesota
Source: DAI-B 70/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Behavioral psychology, Public health
Keywords: Crisis, Crisis leaders, Leadership, Leadership styles, Public health, Public health officials, Rhetorical sensitivity, Social learning theory
Publication Number: 3344533
ISBN: 9781109021417
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