Public health practitioners' information access and use patterns in the Maryland (USA) public health departments of Anne Arundel and Wicomico Counties

Claire Twose, Patricia Swartz, Edward Bunker, Nancy K. Roderer, Kathleen B. Oliver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose: To increase understanding of the information needs and use of public health practitioners. Setting: From June 2005 to May 2006, the library offered a course in public health information resources to eighteen practitioners in two counties, access to the library's licensed electronic resources through a tailored web portal, and consulting services. Evaluation method: We combined usage statistics from the web portal, self-report and observational data collected during training and shadowing of participants. Conclusions: The data from this project indicate that usage of licensed information resources and services is infrequent but broad ranging. A few users register at the high end of the usage range, but one use of one high quality article can have a significant impact on policy decisions. Time and competing responsibilities often constrain the retrieval and use of resources for evidence-based decision making and an informationist or power-user model may be more appropriate than training all practitioners to integrate searching into their workflow. This study indicates (i) that evidence-based public health practice requires seamless and broadly based information access; and (ii) that the currently existing patchwork does not support the level of use or take into account the time constraints of information needs for public health practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-22
Number of pages10
JournalHealth information and libraries journal
Volume25
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Health Information Management

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