Is the World Wide Web a public health tool as indispensable as a food thermometer and frequency table or is it more akin to an expensive, temperamental brochure? Is an agency’s Web site an interactive communication tool that can manage public health data or a security nightmare? When we establish policies relating to an agency’s Web site, are they based upon those used for printed materials and data or those of other information technologies? Most state health departments host Web sites. This is a clear acknowledgment that the Web is no longer viewed as an optional public health communication tool. And with good reason. At 110,825,000 users in December of 1999, the United States has more Internet users than any other nation in the world; five times more than the second ranked country, Japan. Although estimates vary, somewhere between 10% and 20% of Internet users search out Web-based health information. In addition to its utility as a health education tool, the Internet is increasingly being used by public health agencies to communicate information to others in public health and professional partners. Using examples from public health Web sites, the author will illustrate those characteristics of the Web that make it a strong tool for public health and common errors in design and content selection. A discussion of incorporating the Web into other public health communications will also be included.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this session, the participants will be able to (1) describe those characteristics that the World Wide Web shares with other communication tools and those characteristics that make it unique; (2) identify examples from public health related sites that illustrate these characteristics; and (3) discuss administrative, procedural, and practice considerations when using the Web as a public health tool
Keywords: Information Technology, Infrastructure
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA