Analysis of BSE/CJD Surveillance Systems and their Communication Strategies

Analysis of BSE/CJD Surveillance Systems and their Communication Strategies

Client: European Union/WHO (2000-2001) | Area: Health Research

Main Interest |

In the context of the European TSE (Transmissible Spongiforme Enzephalopathien) project, “Public Perception of BSE and CJD risk in Europe, their interplay with media, policy initiatives and surveillance issues. Drawing the lessons for information policy” (PL 987028) communication structures in the existing monitoring systems for BSE (Bovine Spongiforme Enzephalopathis) und CJK (Creutzfeldt-Jakob-disease) were examined. This task was one of five sub-projects of the general project. The results of all parts were meant to produce insights and recommendations for the European Union and the WHO on how the perception of potential food and environmental risks by the population can be integrated into coherent risk communication and monitoring regarding food safety. The comparative study was conducted in Finland, Germany, Italy and the UK, with sine conducting the German case study.


SINE-Mandate |

In the context of the sub-study 4 conducted by SINE, the task was to describe and analyse the monitoring structures regarding BSE and CJD, but also regarding other food risks, especially genetically modified food. The examined time frame covers the years between 1985 and 2001. In regard to the monitoring institutions, the focus was on the communication strategies (if existing). The following questions have been examined:

  • Which kind of information is gathered by the monitoring institutions and who receives these data and why?
  • Assessing in what way this information is adequate for different stakeholders and political perspectives
  • What are the criteria for assessing the reliability of information, and who has the power of definition concerning the collection and distribution of data?
  • Assessing whether existing monitoring systems for BSE and CJD are capable of collecting and distributing in different ways
  • How did existing communication strategies emerge and to which purpose were they created?
  • How can the effect of the different communication strategies be assessed and what recommendations can be concluded? Which strategies would have been more appropriate and why?

The task assigned to SINE also included the presentation and discussion of all results from the five sub-projects at an international working conference.

Furthermore sine was obliged to publish the results in the form of at least one book chapter and one scientific article.


Methods |

A mix of different methods was applied, including:

  • Semi-standardised expert interviews with scientists, political decision makers, but also people working in the PR-department of the respective monitoring institutions and relevant ministries
  • Content analysis of documents concerning monitoring structures and information published by the monitoring institutions themselves
  • Consideration of the results of the already completed sub-projects 1-3 (media analysis and focus group discussions)


Results |

The results of the study have been published in: Dora, Carlos (Hrsg.) (2006): Health, Hazards and Public Debate. Copenhagen: WHO.


Responsible | Dr. Kerstin Dressel and Dipl.-Soz. Lisa Donath