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Transbound Emerg Dis. 2014 Oct;61(5):449-63. doi: 10.1111/tbed.12046. Epub 2012 Dec 28.

Controlling equine influenza: policy networks and decision-making during the 2007 Australian equine influenza outbreak.

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  • 1Faculty of Veterinary Science, The University of Sydney, Camden, NSW, Australia.

Abstract

Rapid, evidence-based decision-making is critical during a disease outbreak response; however, compliance by stakeholders is necessary to ensure that such decisions are effective - especially if the response depends on voluntary action. This mixed method study evaluated technical policy decision-making processes during the 2007 outbreak of equine influenza in Australia by identifying and analysing the stakeholder network involved and the factors driving policy decision-making. The study started with a review of the outbreak literature and published policy documents. This identified six policy issues regarding policy modifications or differing interpretations by different state agencies. Data on factors influencing the decision-making process for these six issues and on stakeholder interaction were collected using a pre-tested, semi-structured questionnaire. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 24 individuals representing 12 industry and government organizations. Quantitative data were analysed using social network analysis. Qualitative data were coded and patterns matched to test a pre-determined general theory using a method called theory-oriented process-tracing. Results revealed that technical policy decisions were framed by social, political, financial, strategic and operational considerations. Industry stakeholders had influence through formal pre-existing channels, yet specific gaps in stakeholder interaction were overcome by reactive alliances formed during the outbreak response but outside the established system. Overall, the crisis management system and response were seen as positive, and 75-100% of individuals interviewed were supportive of, had interest in and considered the outcome as good for the majority of policy decisions, yet only 46-75% of those interviewed considered that they had influence on these decisions. Training to increase awareness and knowledge of emergency animal diseases (EADs) and response systems will improve stakeholder participation in emergency disease management and preparedness for future EAD incursions.

KEYWORDS:

emergency animal disease outbreak; equine influenza; policy decision-making; preparedness; risk management

PMID:
23279804
DOI:
10.1111/tbed.12046
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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