Effective information dissemination to a community in crisis
In 1998 a village in Northumberland was at the centre of a suspected TB infection. This thesis describes a research project that aimed to characterise and evaluate the dissemination of information to the community during the crisis. The context within which the incident occurred is discussed, and the main areas of research within which this project is located are reviewed. The following objectives were set for the project — 1. To determine existing evidence of effective information dissemination 2. To determine the criteria for dissemination in the specific context of the crisis 3. To identify and develop research methods that reflect the cross-disciplinary nature of the topic. The project employed a broadly qualitative methodology and was firmly grounded in information science. A qualitative systematic review of research literature identified the existing evidence of effective information dissemination. The technique was adapted from systematic reviews conducted in health research. Twenty relevant studies were identified and their results synthesised and analysed using a meta-ethnographic approach. From this analysis the elements of effective dissemination were extracted, and when combined produced a model of effective information dissemination. Interviews conducted with key informants ascertained the criteria specific to the TB incident. The information providers for the information dissemination process set three explicit criteria during the TB incident. These criteria were underpinned by a set of assumptions about the audience for the information. A questionnaire survey of respondents in the community was conducted to incorporate their perspective in the evaluation. Analysis of the survey and interview data shows that, whilst the criteria set for the dissemination process were mostly achieved, the assumptions underpinning the dissemination process were not wholly correct. The research data was compared to the model of effective information dissemination. Additional elements were identified and a model of effective information dissemination in a crisis was produced. Further research is required to test the validity of this model. It is proposed, however, that extracting the elements from the unique situation enables translation of the research findings to other crisis situations.