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Characterizing Informatics Roles and Needs of Public Health Workers: Results from the Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey

By Brian E. Dixon, Timothy D. McFarlane, Shandy Dearth, Shaun J. Grannis and P. Joseph Gibson


Objective: To characterize public health workers who specialize in informatics and to assess informatics-related aspects of the work performed by the public health workforce. Methods (Design, Setting, Participants): Using the nationally representative Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey (PH WINS), we characterized and compared responses from informatics, information technology (IT), clinical and laboratory, and other public health science specialists working in state health agencies. Main Outcome Measures: Demographics, income, education, and agency size were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Weighted medians and interquartile ranges were calculated for responses pertaining to job satisfaction, workplace environment, training needs, and informatics-related competencies. Results: Of 10 246 state health workers, we identified 137 (1.3%) informatics specialists and 419 (4.1%) IT specialists. Overall, informatics specialists are younger, but share many common traits with other public health science roles, including positive attitudes toward their contributions to the mission of public health as well as job satisfaction. Informatics specialists differ demographically from IT specialists, and the 2 groups also differ with respect to salary as well as their distribution across agencies of varying size. All groups identified unmet public health and informatics competency needs, particularly limited training necessary to fully utilize technology for their work. Moreover, all groups indicated a need for greater future emphasis on leveraging electronic health information for public health functions. Conclusions: Findings from the PH WINS establish a framework and baseline measurements that can be leveraged to routinely monitor and evaluate the ineludible expansion and maturation of the public health informatics workforce and can also support assessment of the growth and evolution of informatics training needs for the broader field. Ultimately, such routine evaluations have the potential to guide local and national informatics workforce development policy

Topics: public health informatics, workforce, information systems
Publisher: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
Year: 2015
DOI identifier: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000304
OAI identifier:
Provided by: IUPUIScholarWorks

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