Online Program

Lessons learned in building a website to deliver online interventions for public health

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 9:30 a.m. - 9:50 a.m.

Alexandra Ecklund, MPH, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Keith Horvath, PhD, Center for AIDS Intervention Research Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
Toben F. Nelson, ScD, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Traci L. Toomey, PhD, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Shanda Hunt, MPH, Health Sciences Libraries, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Introduction: Online public health interventions have grown in popularity due to their ability to reach underserved and geographically-diverse populations, motivate and incentivize participation, and achieve sustained effects by making resources available for longer periods of time. The purpose of this study is to inform public health research and practice efforts to develop and implement online interventions. Methods: We conducted qualitative in-person interviews with key informants from five independent and diverse public health online intervention research projects (i.e., alcohol policy, HIV/AIDS, adolescent health, sexual health and transgender health). Interviews were guided by the “Step-by-Step Usability Guide” for website development (developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). Interview transcripts were analyzed for themes using standard qualitative analyses protocols. Results: Themes emerged regarding contract management, personnel, and data collection/management. Budgets to build the websites ranged from $50,000-$300,000 and features varied widely. Different external vendors were used to build the websites. All participants noted barriers in communication between vendor staff who were accustomed to developing a product to market and academics who were interested in designing an intervention for high public health impact. Each project devoted significant unexpected personnel time to advocate for a final quality product in the context of fixed project budgets, timelines and deliverables. Conclusion: Online delivery of interventions is an emerging tool for public health practitioners, but there are many challenges that must be considered given the time, money and expertise needed to develop a quality online intervention.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Communication and informatics
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Describe the different phases of website development (plan, analyze, design, test and refine). Identify the major issues to consider in developing an intervention with online components. Differentiate the resources (financial, personnel and time) needed for an intervention with online components compared to an in-person intervention. List the benefits of using interventions with online components.

Keyword(s): Internet Tools, Public Health Education and Health Promotion

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the intervention coordinator for a five year NIH funded study since 2010. The goal of this project is to develop, implement and evaluate a hybrid in-person and online alcohol service training program. I was the lead staff member who worked with the external vendor for developing the website, managing the budget and the timeline. My scientific interests include developing online interventions for public health promotion and alcohol policy.
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.