After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in 2011 and thyroid examinations of children in Fukushima, the Radiation Medical Science Center began “Explanatory meetings on thyroid examination” as a method of communication with residents such as the subjects themselves and their guardians. Through questionnaires, we examined the relationship between anxiety (regarding the effects of radiation on the thyroid) before the meetings and individual attributes including attitudes on radiation, and then verified the effects of the meetings using measures of anxiety, comprehension, and satisfaction, as the outcomes. Of the meetings in 2014-2015, 799 people attended 30 sessions in Kenchu, Kenpoku, Iwaki, Soso, and outside of Fukushima Prefecture, and 594 people responded the questionnaires before and after the meetings on the same day. Level of anxiety before the meetings varied depending on individual attributes (including attitudes regarding collection information on radiation, advisors on radiation, and levels of subjective understanding), highlighting the importance of presenting information about radiation in a manner that is easy to understand, as well as providing opportunities for the exchange of opinions. Participation in meetings reduced anxiety. This was largely attributed to explanations about general characteristics of cancer and objective facts, including doses; status of the Chernobyl accident; and comparison in results of thyroid examinations with other prefectures in Japan. An opportunity for a question-and-answer session also contributed to increased overall satisfaction. The lower number of meeting participants was associated with anxiety reduction and higher subjective comprehension. The present findings obtained will be useful to facilitate evidence-based risk communication.
2016 Tohoku University Medical Press