Journal Article

Novel public health risk assessment process developed to support syndromic surveillance for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

Gillian E. Smith, Alex J. Elliot, Sue Ibbotson, Roger Morbey, Obaghe Edeghere, Jeremy Hawker, Mike Catchpole, Tina Endericks, Paul Fisher and Brian McCloskey

in Journal of Public Health

Published on behalf of Faculty of Public Health

Volume 39, issue 3, pages e111-e117
Published in print September 2017 | ISSN: 1741-3842
Published online July 2016 | e-ISSN: 1741-3850 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/pubmed/fdw054
Novel public health risk assessment process developed to support syndromic surveillance for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

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Abstract

Background

Syndromic surveillance aims to provide early warning and real time estimates of the extent of incidents; and reassurance about lack of impact of mass gatherings. We describe a novel public health risk assessment process to ensure those leading the response to the 2012 Olympic Games were alerted to unusual activity that was of potential public health importance, and not inundated with multiple statistical ‘alarms’.

Methods

Statistical alarms were assessed to identify those which needed to result in ‘alerts’ as reliably as possible. There was no previously developed method for this. We identified factors that increased our concern about an alarm suggesting that an ‘alert’ should be made.

Results

Between 2 July and 12 September 2012, 350 674 signals were analysed resulting in 4118 statistical alarms. Using the risk assessment process, 122 ‘alerts’ were communicated to Olympic incident directors.

Conclusions

Use of a novel risk assessment process enabled the interpretation of large number of statistical alarms in a manageable way for the period of a sustained mass gathering. This risk assessment process guided the prioritization and could be readily adapted to other surveillance systems. The process, which is novel to our knowledge, continues as a legacy of the Games.

Keywords: mass gatherings, risk assessment process, syndromic surveillance

Journal Article.  3207 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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