Crisis Communication in the Danish Health Authority: An Analysis of the HPV-case

Cathrine B. Pihl

Student thesis: Master thesis


This master thesis investigates the HPV case and the Danish Health Authority, where a group of girls think they have been ill because of the HPV vaccine. The Danish Health Authority does not agree. The Authority has been criticized for not listening to the girls, and not taking them serious.
The research question of this master thesis is the following: ”How has the Danish Health Authority communicated about the HPV-case? And which implications did it have on the reputation? implikationer har det haft for deres omdømme?”
This includes the following sub-questions:
o What was the most optimal thing for the Danish Health Authority to do?
o Is there anything the Danish Health Authority should pay special attention to, due to its
status as a public organisation?
The analysis will mainly be based on Coombs’ Situational Crisis Communication Theory, Benoit’s theory of image restoration and Frandsen and Johansen, and Boin et al.’s perspective on crisis communication in the public sector.
The empirical data is four stakeholder interviews, one interview with an employee from the Danish Health Authority and three examples of communication from the Danish Health Authority.
This master thesis concludes that the stakeholders think The Danish Health Authority have handled the case in inappropriate way, and the reputation is damaged. The HPV-crisis is a challenge placed in Coomb’s accidental cluster. But because there is a prior crisis history, and a prior negative reputation, the stakeholders will treat the crisis as a preventable crisis. This means a severe threat to the reputation of The Danish Health Authority.
Because of its status as a public organisation and authority, The Danish Health Authority has certain considerations to be taken.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Organizational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages140
SupervisorsLasse Peter Laursen