237968 Information seeking behaviors of local public health practitioners A case study from a Kentucky health department

Monday, October 31, 2011

Alex F. Howard, MPH , National Coordinating Center for Public Health Services and Systems Research, University of Kentucky College of Public Health, Lexington, KY
Objective: To better understand the information seeking behaviors of public health practitioners in order to better tailor information services to practitioners in Kentucky, and, ultimately, facilitate communication between public health practitioners, researchers, policy makers, and librarians.

Methods: An electronic survey was distributed via email to directors of health departments (HDs) in Kentucky with the request that it would be forwarded to all full-time equivalents (FTEs) at their respective location. Results were collected through Survey Monkey and analyzed using Microsoft Excel and SAS.

Results: Response rates varied tremendously between HDs with a poor overall rate (n=114, <1% state-wide HD FTEs). As a result, and due to a substantial response rate from one HD (n=57, 50% of the total responses and 79% of this particular HD's FTEs), the analysis was limited to only that HD. From these results we observed an overreliance on colleagues and peer HDs for information while more traditional research resources were underutilized. Participants also reported time limitations as the most significant barrier to information seeking.

Conclusions: Understanding information seeking behaviors and communication channels of public health practitioners will facilitate the translation of research to practice. Observations from this study indicate that colleagues are the most utilized resource; thus, greater collaboration is warranted between practitioners in HDs and information specialists, such as librarians. Through this collaboration, information specialists can facilitate the use of more traditional research resources, such as peer reviewed journals. In addition, public health practitioners can inform information specialists on how best to organize information for the consumption of practitioners.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health administration or related administration

Learning Objectives:
Describe the information seeking behaviors of practitioners in a local health department in Kentucky. Discuss the methods for providing tailored information for public health practitioners based on roles. Discuss the effectiveness of Web 2.0 technologies in public health practice.

Keywords: Communication, Workforce

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I worked with the team responsible for conducting the investigation and analysis of data involving the assessment of information seeking behaviors of local public health practitioners in Kentucky.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.