Online Program

Online social networks to the rescue!: Fulfilling the ten essential public health services

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 2:30 p.m. - 2:50 p.m.

Melanie Mason, MS, Department of Health Sciences, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL
Maureen Bezold, PhD, MPH, Department of Health Sciences and Social Work, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL
Public health departments (HDs) have various functions to fulfill, all of which aim to protect communities, promote health, and prevent diseases. The Core Public Health Functions Steering Committee developed a set of ten services that health departments across the United States (U.S.) are responsible for delivering. The services range from monitoring a community's health status to enforcing regulations that promote health. Due to the obstacles that HDs face, such as budget cuts, limited resources, and changes in regulations that govern public health, they must adopt new means of service delivery in order to achieve these ten essential public health services. This research study aims to show how the use of online social networks can serve as a fundamental tool in delivering these essential services with little resource investment. The study will also show how online social networks can be an innovative way to monitor resident feedback and serve as a means for quality improvement within HDs.

To achieve our study goals we will analyze the use of a single online social network popularly used by state health departments in the U.S. The content on these sites will be categorized to determine if state health departments use online social networks to fulfill the essential services that public health departments should be providing. This study will also explore how the integration and expansion of online social networks within public health departments can serve as a means to improve the quality of the services provided by a HD. Focusing on quality improvement allows health departments the opportunity to improve the effective and efficient use of resources to better serve the community stakeholders.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics
Public health administration or related administration
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the demographics of online social network users. Evaluate the usefulness of social network integration for state health departments. Analyze how state health departments utilize online social networks.

Keyword(s): Technology, Essential Public Health Services

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal investigator of this study on the integration of online social networks by state health departments while completing degree requirements for my M.S. in health sciences with a public health option. This work was completed under the supervision of my co-author who has a Ph.D. in business management and an M.P.H. and has been engaged in management research for 20 years.
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.