An Evaluation of Provincial Infectious Disease Surveillance Reports in Ontario

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Abstract

Context:

Public Health Ontario (PHO) publishes various infectious disease surveillance reports, but none have yet been formally evaluated.

Objective:

PHO evaluated its monthly and annual infectious disease surveillance reports to assess public health stakeholders' current perception of the products and to develop recommendations for improving future products.

Design:

An evaluation consisting of an online survey and a review of public Web sites of other jurisdictions with similar annual reports.

Setting:

For the online survey, stakeholder organizations targeted were the 36 local public health units and the Health health ministry in Ontario, Canada.

Participants:

Survey participants included epidemiologists, managers, directors, and other public health practitioners from participating organizations.

Main Outcome Measures:

Online survey respondents' awareness and access to the reports, their rated usefulness of reports and subsections, and suggestions for improving usefulness; timeliness of select annual reports from other jurisdictions based on the period from data described to report publication.

Results:

Among 57 survey respondents, between 74% and 97% rated each report as useful; the most common use was for situational awareness. Respondents ranked timeliness as the most important attribute of surveillance reports, followed by data completeness. Among 6 annual reports reviewed, the median time to publication was 11.5 months compared with 23.2 months for PHO.

Conclusion:

Recommendations based on this evaluation have already been applied to the monthly report (eg, focusing on the most useful sections) and have become key considerations when developing future annual reports and other surveillance reporting tools (eg, need to provide more timely reports). Other public health organizations may also use this evaluation to inform aspects of their surveillance report development and evaluation. The evaluation results have provided PHO with direction on how to improve its provincial infectious disease surveillance reporting moving forward, and formed a basis for future work in surveillance product development and evaluation.

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