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Risk Research Unit

LSE Health conducts research devoted to individuals' reactions to risk information in the context of health and social decision making. We focus on risk perceptions regarding public health-related decisions, health care, food and social risks. Our research deals with understanding how individuals update risk information form their risks attitudes and perceive the risks looking at individuals and socio-environmental factors. Key recent publication address specific health concerns (smoking and obesity) as well as collective risks such as new technology (genetically modified food) and larger public health threats (avian influenza). We combine elements of previous work from the fields of economics, public health and social psychology while including the growing influence of behavioural economics to offer insight into risk perceptions.

Our research contributions are theoretically informed and address empirical questions on the role of knowledge and information sources individuals' and societies decision risk decision making processes in various health-related contexts. The role of cognitive biases in the risk assessment and reasoning has allows us to explore old and new influential biases that have important policy implications such as optimistic biases, ambivalent responses and ambiguity and the role of rational and emotional decision making in risk/benefit formulation.

Besides individual risks, we specifically deal with attitudes towards health-related decisions such as organ and blood donation and long term care as well as attitudes and perceptions about health care services and medicines. This research area examines individual and social motivations behind health-related decision making. The implications of our research are key to informing public policy aimed at helping society make better decisions about health risks through improved risk communication.

This research has been published in leading journals including Risk Analysis, Journal of Risk Research, Risk Management, the Journal of Technology Transfer and Food Quality and Preference.

Recent publications


Costa-Font, J., Rudisill, C. and E. Mossialos. Consumer demand for health information and the use of the internet, Economics of Innovation and New Technology

Costa-Font, J., Rudisill, C. and E. Mossialos. Attitudes as an expression of knowledge and 'political anchoring': The case of nuclear power in the UK, Risk Analysis

Costa-Font, J., Mossialos, E. and C. Rudisill. Optimism and the perceptions of new risks, Journal of Risk Research

Mossialos, E. and C. Rudisill. Knowledge about avian influenza in the European Region, Emerging Infectious Diseases


Costa-Font, J., Mossialos, E. and C. Rudisill. Are feelings of genetically modified food politically driven?, Risk Management, 10(3): 218-34.

Mossialos, E., Costa-Font, J. and C. Rudisill. The determinants of willingness to donate organs in the European Union, BMC Health Services Research, 8: 48.


Costa-Font, J. and E. Mossialos. Are Perceptions of Risk and Benefits of Genetically Modified Food Independent?" Food Quality and Preference, 2007, 18(2): 173-182


Costa-Font, J., Mossialos, E. and M. Costa-Font. Erring on the side of caution? The heterogeneity of public perceptions biotechnology applications in the European Union. Journal of Economic Issues, 40 (3): 667-677.

Costa-i-Font, J. and E. Mossialos. The public as a limit to technology transfer: The influence of knowledge and beliefs in attitudes towards biotechnology in the UK. Journal of Technology Transfer, 31(6): 629-645. 2005

Costa-Font, J. and E. Mossialos. Ambivalent' Individual Preferences towards Biotechnology in the European Union: Products or Processes? Journal of Risk Research, 8(4): 341 - 354.

Costa-i-Font, J. and E. Mossialos. Is dread of genetically modified food associated with the consumers demand for information? Applied Economics Letters, 12 (14): 859-863.


Gigerenzer, G., Hertwig, R., van den Broek, E., Fasolo, B., & Katsikopoulos, K. (2005)."A 30% chance of rain tomorrow." How does the public understand probabilistic weather forecasts? Risk Analysis, 25 (3), 623-629.

Rovira-Forns, J., Viscusi, K., Antonanzas, F., Costa-i-Font, J., Hart, W., and I. Carvalho. Smoking risks in Spain (part II): perceptions of environmental tobacco smoke externalities. (2000). Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 21, 187-212

Founding Members

Professor Elias Mossialos|
Brian Abel-Smith Professor of Health Policy, Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science
Director of LSE Health, London School of Economics and Political Science
Specific areas of interest: risk perceptions about medicines and healthcare treatment options, risk perceptions and public health.

Ms. Caroline Rudisill|
Lecturer in Health Economics, Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science and Division of Health and Social Care Research, King's College London
Specific areas of interest: international public health threats (bioterrorism, avian influenza and climate change), tobacco, obesity and sexually-transmitted diseases especially among adolescents.

Staff Members Conducting Research within the Risk Research Unit

Ms. Sherry Merkur|
Research Fellow, European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, London School of Economics and Political Science
Editor, Eurohealth
Specific areas of interest: public health policy, risk perceptions, behavioural change, quality of care.  

Dr. Barbara Fasolo|
Lecturer in Decision Sciences, Department of Management, Operational Research Group.
London School of Economics and Political Science and European Medicines Agency (20% secondment in 2009)
Specific areas of interest: behavioural decision making, consumer decision making, risk perception. Current research projects include: informed patient choice; perception of terrorism risk: regulatory drug approval decisions

If you would like any further information about the Risk Research Unit please contact Professor Elias Mossialos| or Caroline Rudisill|