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Access and Use of the Internet for Health Information Seeking: A Survey of Local Public Health Professionals in the Northwest

Turner, Anne M. MD, MPH, MLIS; Petrochilos, Deanna MS; Nelson, David E. MD, MPH; Allen, Eileen MLS; Liddy, Elizabeth D. PhD

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice:
doi: 10.1097/01.PHH.0000342946.33456.d9
Evaluating Impacts of Community Health Assessments
Abstract

We conducted an on-line survey of 164 local health departments' staff in five Northwestern states in 2006–2007 to assess Internet access and use by staff. Most (96%) respondents had full-time access to their own worksite computer. The most important selection criterion for selecting Web sites was credibility of the sponsoring organization (55%). Accuracy (46%), reputable source (30%), and currency of information (19%) were considered most critical for assessing information quality. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (80%) and state health department (60%) sites were used most commonly. These findings can be used to improve public health Web sites and support decision making in practice.

In Brief

This study focuses on survey to assess Internet access and use by staff.

Author Information

Anne M. Turner, MD, MPH, MLIS, is Assistant Professor, Center for Public Health Informatics, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.

Deanna Petrochilos, MS, is National Library of Medicine Fellow, Division of Biomedical and Health Informatics, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.

David E. Nelson, MD, MPH, is Senior Scientific Advisor, Alcohol Team, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.

Eileen Allen, MLS, is Senior Research Analyst, Center for Natural Language Processing, School of Information Studies, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York.

Elizabeth D. Liddy, PhD, is Dean, Trustee Professor, School of Information Studies, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York.

Corresponding Author: Anne M. Turner, MD, MPH, MLIS, Center for Public Health Informatics, University of Washington, Box 354943, Seattle, WA 98195 (amturner@u.washington.edu).

The authors thank all the local public health professionals who participated in this survey. In addition, they thank Connie Curran, Ivy Hendrickson, and Melissa Thompson for their assistance with conducting the on-line survey. This research was supported by the National Library of Medicine Translational Informatics Grant No. 1 G08 LM008983-01 and by the NLM Training Grant No. T15 LM07442.

The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.