Date

November 2004

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Medical Subject Headings

Communicable Disease Control; Public Health Informatics; Public Health; Public Health Practice; State Government; Information Services; Access to Information; Needs Assessment; Qualitative Research

Disciplines

Library and Information Science

Abstract

In order to understand the information needs and the current and ideal approaches to information access in one major area of public health, semi-structured key informant interviews were conducted with 12 communicable disease control public health professionals in Massachusetts at their worksite. Examples of the types of information they commonly accessed and how it was accessed were solicited and/or observed where feasible. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed thematically. Information needs ranged from breaking news (e.g. epidemiology of emerging disease outbreaks) and untested programmatic ideas (e.g. how to handle prevention and treatment of West Nile Virus and SARS) to the need for published evidence-based information about better known diseases (e.g. tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS). Current preferences for information delivery mechanisms varied according to the type of information sought. Information about emerging diseases and programmatic interventions to address these were more often obtained from email alert systems and from informal local and national networks of colleagues via telephone, teleconference or special interest listservs. Information about more well-known diseases was often obtained via websites, general or specific journal search engines, or from listservs providing citations to new or updated sources of information about these diseases. Informants identified improvements to the existing information access and delivery systems that could meet their needs more effectively. This session will review areas for improvements identified by informants and suggest models that can be implemented to help public health professionals access credible and relevant information.

Oral presentation at the 2004 American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Washington, DC.

Contributor

Simpson, Hathy

Keywords

public health practice, public health workforce, state health departments, communicable disease control, information needs