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Use of Computer Modeling for Emergency Preparedness Functions by Local and State Health Officials: A Needs Assessment

Rosenfeld, Lisa A. MPH; Fox, Claude Earl MD, MPH; Kerr, Debora MA; Marziale, Erin MPH; Cullum, Amy MPH, MA; Lota, Kanchan MPH; Stewart, Jonathan MA, MHA; Thompson, Mary Zack MBA

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice:
doi: 10.1097/01.PHH.0000346004.21157.ef
Article
Abstract

The authors, collaborating from several public health institutes, present the methodology, results, and lessons learned from a multistate needs assessment of local and state public health and safety officials regarding their familiarity and use of formal computer modeling for preparedness activities. The study was undertaken to provide information to the newly formed Preparedness Modeling Unit within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The focus was on the use of sophisticated mathematical models associated with three public health threats: pandemic influenza, radiologic release, and severe heat waves. The use of computer modeling and scenario-based analyses can be used to better frame problems and opportunities, integrate data sources, expect outcomes, and improve multistakeholder decision making. The results of the eight state needs assessment demonstrated that preparedness officials are familiar with models and would use computer modeling as a tool, along with other tools and general experiences, depending upon the perceived quality and validity of the model and the assumptions, as well as the applicability, of the model to their particular setting and population. More needs to be done to improve awareness and dissemination of available models and share best practices in both knowledge and use of models. Use of preparedness modeling would enhance the planning for vulnerable and at-risk populations, all-hazard emergencies and infectious disease containment strategies, as well as for response functions including evacuation, sheltering, quarantine, and distribution of medications and supplies.

In Brief

This article presents the methodology, results, and lessons learned from a multistate needs assessment of local and state public health and safety officials regarding their familiarity and use of formal computer modeling for preparedness activities.

Author Information

Lisa A. Rosenfeld, MPH, is Director, Emergency & Environmental Preparedness Solutions, Boca Raton; Voluntary Instructor, Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, University of Miami, Miami, Florida.

Claude Earl Fox, MD, MPH, is Executive Director, Florida Public Health Institute, Lantana; Professor, Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, University of Miami, Miami, Florida.

Debora Kerr, MA, is Assistant Director, Florida Public Health Institute, Lantana.

Erin Marziale, MPH, is Program Manager, Fostering Emerging Institutes Project, National Network of Public Health Institutes, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Amy Cullum, MPH, MA, is Senior Consultant, Community Health Institute/JSI, Bow, New Hampshire.

Kanchan Lota, MPH, is Program Coordinator, Michigan Public Health Institute, Okemos.

Jonathan Stewart, MA, MHA, is Director, Community Health Institute/JSI, Bow, New Hampshire.

Mary Zack Thompson, MBA, is Project Coordinator, Center for Data Management and Translational Research, Michigan Public Health Institute, Okemos.

Corresponding Author: Lisa A. Rosenfeld, MPH, Emergency & Environmental Preparedness Solutions, 17193 Northway Circle, Boca Raton, Florida 33496 (LRosenfeld@eepsolutions.org).

The authors thank Julie Fishman, MPH, CDC NCEH/ATSDR, and Bobby Milstein, PhD, MPH, CDC NCEH.

The primary author is Lisa A. Rosenfeld, MPH. She served as the Director of the Center for Biopreparedness and Health System Readiness at The Florida Public Health Institute and currently serves as the Director of Emergency & Environmental Preparedness Solutions. Ms. Rosenfeld, received her MPH from Yale University, and has been a hospital and public health consultant for 20 years. The other authors are professionals at the Florida, New Hampshire, and Michigan Public Health Institutes and from the National Network of Public Health Institutes.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.