Web-based public health information dissemination and evaluation

Elliot R. Siegel, Fred B. Wood, John C. Scott and Julia Royall

in Oxford Textbook of Public Health

Fifth edition

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780199218707
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199609673 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Textbooks

Web-based public health information dissemination and evaluation

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This chapter focuses on the current status of what is called Web-based health information dissemination. The chapter highlights the proliferation of Web sites for public health organizations and institutions of all types that has occurred in recent years. The chapter next addresses the dramatic potential of Web-based applications for Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management for all countries, whether high-, middle-, or low-income. This includes the use of Web-based networks of satellites, sensors, data mining, and analytics.

The chapter presents two case studies on emergency preparedness: Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders (WISER); and Central American Network for Disaster Health Information (CANDHI). The chapter then discusses a major Web-based health application in low-income countries—the Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI); and provides an update on the Multinational Initiative on Malaria (MIM) and its use of Web-based dissemination of scientific research.

Finally, the chapter presents a multidimensional approach to Web evaluation that includes methods to determine: (1) How well the Web sites are meeting customer or citizen needs; and (2) what design, content, functionality, and performance improvements may be needed to better meet user needs.

The Web will continue to grow as an important part of the public health information infrastructure in many countries. The key role of the Web can exacerbate the digital divide, to the extent access and use are more heavily concentrated in urbanized and higher income areas. On the other hand, the Web can help improve access to public health information much more broadly than was possible in the pre-Web era. Given the growing role of the Web in public and consumer health, a robust approach to Web evaluation is important.

Chapter.  16072 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology ; Public Health

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