22702 Making Sense of Immunization Science: The Genesis and Evolution of the National Network for Immunization Information

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Grand Hall
Christy Ledford, MS , PhD student, George Mason University

Background: In 1999, a group of nationally-recognized physicians recognized the changing landscape of the immunization information environment.  The mobilization of activist groups and the resulting media coverage increased the equivocality of mediated immunization information.  Acknowledging vaccination rate decreases in other countries and policymakers’ attention to activists domestically, the physician group collaborated to form the National Network for Immunization Information (NNii) as a communication strategy to prevent immunization rate decreases.  For ten years, the organization has pursued its goal to “provide the public, health professionals, policy makers, and the media with up-to-date, scientifically valid information related to immunizations to help them understand the issues and to make informed decisions.”

Objectives: This investigation purposed to provide a critical evaluation of the strategic communication planning and implementation of NNii from conception to present day.  As NNii formed and adapted as an organization and as a communicator, Weick’s model of organizing provides a descriptive framework and analytical guide.

Methods: The study uses a case study methodology, developing a systematic analysis of organizational documents, the media environment, and in-depth interviews by applying the model of organizing as an interpretive framework. Specifically, this study adopts the explanation building analytic technique.  Investigators conducted 11 interviews, including NNii past steering committee members, communication consultants, and journalists.  Iterative data analysis included open coding, axial coding, and thematic saturation.  Themes were compared to study propositions and research questions. 

Results: Major themes identified included the organization’s informative nature, funding credibility, non-branding, reflective evaluation, collaborative partnerships, and media strategy. 

Conclusions: NNii meets the requirements of requisite variety, nonsummativity, and organizational flexibility proposed by Weick’s model of organizing.  However, a lack of systematic evaluation of organization goals prevents it from adapting communication tactics and strategies.  Additionally, the authors recommend that NNii, though informative in intent, adopt persuasive strategies to attract and retain the attention of its target audiences. 

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