New Ideas - and How They Grow

Diffusion of Innovations theory is the study of the social process of how new ideas, practices and objects become known and are spread through a social system. A 1962 book by Everett Rogers, Diffusion of Innovation, described the theory.

On April 2, 2002, George Washington University's Medical Center celebrated the 40th anniversary of the book's publication by hosting a conference, "Diffusion of Innovations: Its Utility and Value in Public Health," in collaboration with its Center for Global Health, the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md.; Academy for Education Development, Washington; and Widmeyer Communications, Washington.

Key Results

  • A supplemental issue of the Journal of Health Communication, "Forty Years of Diffusion of Innovations: Utility and Value in Public Health," which compiled papers and presentations from the conference, was published in June 2004.

    Some abstracts of articles in the special issue are available at the website of the journal's publisher, Taylor & Francis. The issue costs $64 and can be ordered online.

    According to Muhiuddin Haider, PhD, project director, "Diffusion of Innovation theory is one of the most powerful communications theories that has a profound impact across the globe in public health communication interventions. This journal reviews the lessons learned and provides a look at potential uses in the 21st century."

    These range from chronic health problems to new emerging infections diseases, including those related to bioterrorism.

    Dwayne Proctor, PhD, RWJF program officer, says, "It is incredibly important to have some of the most current research using this theory in one place, and there is no more fitting place than the Journal of Health Communications."