Library and Information Science
It is clear from the trend towards evidence-based practices in many fields that public health (PH) practice can be better informed if credible information about effective practices is accessible. Comparing sources of evidence-based information in clinical medicine to what is available for PH, we found fewer examples of readily accessible sources in PH. This project was conceived to identify enhancements to evidence-based information accessing needs of PH professionals.
A qualitative study identified how PH professionals currently access information and what enhancements they need. Nineteen individual interviews were conducted across two state health department bureaus – communicable disease control and community health promotion. Follow-up focus groups were conducted to gather additional data on preferences for information accessing models and features.
An information maturity continuum emerged ranging from fast-breaking news about emerging health threats to evidence-based practice guidelines. Needs within this continuum varied somewhat across bureaus, but both groups expressed needs for improved information access such as better organizing/filtering of information, access to systematic reviews and/or summaries as well as full text of articles, one portal access with a good search engine, and broader access to best practice information.
Both groups identified a need for PH-specific filters to create more efficient access to relevant information either delivered to their desktops via listservs or sought via search engines. Informants stated a preference for making enhancements to systems with which they were already familiar such as PubMed.
Oral presentation at the 133rd Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association; Abstract 108127, Session 5134. Philadelphia, PA.
evidence-based public health; public health information access; public health practice; information needs
133rd Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association
See also the project website: Evidence-Based Practice for Public Health.
LaPelle, Nancy R.; Simpson, E. Hatheway; Luckmann, Roger S.; and Martin, Elaine Russo, "Enhancing evidence-based information access to inform public health practice" (2005). University of Massachusetts Medical School. Library Publications and Presentations. Paper 62.