263727 Public health nurses' use of websites to communicate with the public to enhance wellness

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pamela Aaltonen, RN, MS, PhDc , School of Nursing, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, Afghanistan
Background: During 2009 and 2010 public health nurses were engaged in efforts to contain the spread and minimize the effects of H1N1 influenza. Simultaneously, consumer use of the Internet to acquire health care information increased. Google developed an influenza tracking system based on web search activities to model the course of the epidemic, but did local public health nurses use the web to communicate directly with the population in their jurisdictions? This question was answered as a component of larger descriptive study that analyzed all local health department websites (n= 620) in 6 Midwestern states. Methods: In this descriptive study, websites were viewed to assess the quality of website constructs including connectivity, function, accessibility, currency, interactivity, and viability.

Results: Size of the jurisdiction served explained the most variability in terms of use of websites to communicate with populations about vaccines, distribution sites, information about pandemics, and preparedness. This study established a baseline on the use of websites as a communication strategy for local health department public health nurses.

Conclusions: Work remains to 1) establish the means by which public health nurses can maximize the capacity of local health department websites to reach populations, and 2) develop an expectation among populations to seek information on local health department websites and to trust and use the information they find there. An incidental finding that certain sections of websites were typically more robust than others suggests that multiple persons with varying levels of expertise were responsible for the development of website materials.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related nursing

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify the use of local health department websites to provide specific directions and alerts to the public 2. Demonstrate the use of websites to inform and engage citizens in preparedness and personal health matters 3. Identify future possibilities for expanding public health use of websites to engage citizens

Keywords: Public Health Nursing, Public Health Informatics

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified because I conducted this study and analyzed the results for this presentation.
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.