Partnerships for Innovation
State and federal health agencies diligently develop preparedness plans for response to and management of communicable diseases, but without public understanding of and compliance with these plans, public health crises can ensue.
Because pandemic flu has been found to be easily confused with avian flu, helping the public understand the difference has proven to be a challenging task for public health officials.
Recognizing the likely occurrence and serious consequences of human pandemic influenza, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its National Immunization Program looked to Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) to help create and test materials that would inform the public about pandemic influenza.
We worked closely with the CDC to develop and select messages for testing, conduct audience opinion research, and advise of future pandemic influenza message development.
Our health communication specialists used an automated media monitoring system known as Auto-INFORM, as well as other tools to identify concerns about the illness.
We then organized and facilitated workshops in which teams of governmental experts developed messages for responding to pandemic flu questions.
Five rounds of audience opinion testing were conducted in 10 U.S. cities to assess perceptions of pandemic influenza and the likely responses at different stages of the event.
ORAU experts designed the study, developed research instruments, managed logistics and analyzed the sessions of 88 public focus groups and 47 health care worker interviews.
Reports from these stories will help guide the CDC on improving message delivery for pandemic influenza, as well as other public health emergencies.