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[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Utility of the Environmental Scan for Public Health Practice:

Randolph Rowel, PhD and Richard N. Scott, MD. Public Health Program, Morgan State University, 1700 E. Coldspring Lane, 343 Jenkins Building, Baltimore, MD 21251, 443-885-3138, rrowel@jewel.morgan.edu

The environmental scan is a tool that can be utilized to collect data to design health programs. However, it remains relatively undefined, unevaluated, and underutilized in the field of public health. While individual studies indicate the utility of the environmental scan for public health, it is difficult to find a theoretical framework or any guidelines on how to design, implement or evaluate the process within public health practice. The purpose of this methodological study was to learn more about the environmental scan. Our research team conducted an environment scan for a project designed to increase cancer screening among African Americans in Baltimore, Maryland. Data collection methods for this environmental scan included a review of community stakeholders, cancer incidence and community assets and liabilities, focus group sessions and key informant interviews with service providers. The experience demonstrated environmental scanning through the framework developed by Choo (8). For this study Choo’s conditioned viewing and searching modes of scanning were employed. When viewed together, researchers found that these scanning modes represent a continuum of data collection activities whereby intrusion or community engagement increased with our need to understand more from those affected by the problem. In conclusion, the environmental scan has considerable potential as a flexible tool for a quick and cost-effective first assessment of situations in public health practice. The team developed an Environmental Scan Continuum for Public Health and 9 guidelines to maximize the utility of this data collection method for public health. The environmental scan is useful as a means understanding a situation, utilizing existing sources of information, and engaging community partners.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Community Health Assessment, Cancer Screening

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
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.

[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Community Research Forum

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA