One Year After Disneyland: Buttenheim & Asch on Leveraging Behavioral Insights to Promote Vaccine Acceptance


In a JAMA Pediatrics Viewpoint, UPenn PRC Researchers Alison Buttenheim, PhD, and David Asch, MD, look at the 2014 Disney measles outbreak and what it showed about the effect of vaccination refusal on disease risk. Since the outbreak, parents continue to skip vaccinating their children, affecting “everyone by weakening the herd immunity conferred by widespread vaccination,” according to the authors.

Buttenheim and Asch identify interventions which might make the reasons for vaccinating more salient to parents and health behavior theories which recognize the complex ways people make decisions about their children’s well-being. “There is so much more known today than 2 decades ago about not just the errors in people’s judgment, but how predictable those errors are and therefore how well they can be anticipated. This knowledge should be used to promote health for individuals and populations.”


Whooping Cough On the Rise: How to Improve Caregiver Booster Immunization Rates?

Whooping cough has increased dramatically over the past five years, putting infants at risk of serious illness or death. Most are infected by a caregiver who has not received a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) booster, so caregiver immunization is key to reversing this trend.

Since many caregivers go unvaccinated, new strategies are needed to convince those living with infants to get the Tdap booster. To address this care gap, a team of researchers lead by Alison Buttenheim PhD, MBA, an Assistant Professor of Nursing and an Assistant Professor of Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, evaluated the feasibility and impact of different interventions aimed at increasing the number of vaccinated caregivers.

The results of their study, set for publication in the February 2016 issue of Vaccine, concluded that despite leveraging existing vaccination services at retail pharmacies, vaccine vouchers and celebrity video promotion delivered during a newborn visit were not an effective strategy for increasing Tdap vaccination. “We continue to look for alternate approaches that prioritize convenience and provide an immediate opportunity to vaccinate when the motivation to do so is high,” added Buttenheim


Innovative Strategy For Improving Stakeholder Engagement in Academic Research Communities

Strategic planning for research priorities in schools of nursing requires consensus-building and engagement of key stakeholders. However, traditional approaches to strategic planning using workgroups and committees sometimes result in low rates of faculty participation and fail to engage other important stakeholders.

In a special issue of Nursing Outlook,  Kaitlin M. Best, MS RN, Olga Jarrin, PhD, RN, Alison M. Buttenheim, PhD, MBA, Kathryn H. Bowles, PhD, RN, FAAN, and Martha A. Q. Curley, PhD, RN, FAAN describe an unique low-cost, high-yield processes that contributed to the rapid development of their school’s strategic research plan over the course of 1 month.

Most importantly, using the name recognition of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s annual basketball tournament, the author was able to encourage high levels of participation by faculty, doctoral students, and postdoctoral fellows in not only developing a consensus around eight broad lines of inquiry but also offering tangible recommendations for accomplishing those goals within the next 5 years. However, other schools of nursing seeking to evaluate their research enterprise and align their science with national priorities could easily replicate this approach.

Read the article here.

Best K, Jarrin O, Buttenheim A, Bowles K, Curley M. Innovation in creating a strategic plan for research within an academic community. Nursing Outlook, Jul-Aug 2015, 63:4, 456-461.