Online Program

Local public health information: Who wants to know what?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 9:10 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

Robert Goodspeed, PhD, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Joshua Vogel, MPH, Office of Statistics and Evaluation, Bureau of Community Health Access and Prevention, Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health, Boston, MA
Mariana Arcaya, ScD, MCP, Public Health Division, Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Boston, MA
Timothy Reardon, MCP, Data Services Department, Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Boston, MA
James Buszkiewicz, MPH, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Boston, MA
Wenjun Li, PhD, Health Statistics and Geography Lab, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA
Thomas G. Land, PhD, Office of the Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Boston, MA
Kate Ito, MS, Public Health Division, Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Boston, MA
As public health places greater emphasis on linking clinical and community settings, there will be growing need for local residents and policymakers to understand local public health outcomes and other contextual information. To meet this need, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) with advice from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) launched "Our Healthy Massachusetts" (OHM) a public website featuring health-related indicators, spatial data, data explorations, and qualitative data about local programs. This paper reports the result of a survey of users of the OHM website, investigating their motivations, background, and use of the information resources made available. Many of the features on the OHM website are powered by WEAVE (Web-based Analysis and Visualization Environment), a web-based open source data visualization software. All 351 communities in MA have an interactive map of local assets and/or partners in OHM. In addition, each has a listing of specific health programs, health profiles, and data stories. OHM ( launched in winter 2013. New features and functionality are planned throughout 2013. A survey instrument is being used to track the motivation and knowledge gained of visitors to OHM. Designed to serve a broad audience, OHM can identify specific user groups and their priorities. Drawing on research about knowledge use in the policymaking process, this paper identifies users seeking information for instrumental, conceptual, and symbolic use. The results can inform the design of new systems seeking to provide information to local public health policymakers.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics
Public health or related education
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the primary motivations of visitors to a public health information website Identify key public health data sought by local policymakers Describe web design principles to make public health data accessible to non-expert users

Keyword(s): Internet Tools, Geographic Information Systems

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I recently graduated with a PhD from the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning, focusing on spatial analysis, indicators, and technology for participatory planning. This paper will use research skills and theoretical knowledge from my doctoral experience. In addition, I have worked as a research analyst on several innovative data portals at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, an agency with experience in conducting data analysis and public communication of quantitative and spatial data.
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.