Public Health Staff Development Needs in Informatics: Findings From a National Survey of Local Health Departments
CONTEXT: Public health practice is information-intensive and information-driven. Public health informatics is a nascent discipline, and most public health practitioners lack necessary skills in this area. OBJECTIVE: To describe the staff development needs of local health departments (LHDs) related to informatics. DESIGN: Data came from the 2015 Informatics Capacity and Needs Assessment Survey, conducted by Georgia Southern University in collaboration with the National Association of County & City Health Officials. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 324 LHDs from all 50 states completed the survey (response rate: 50%). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): Outcome measures included LHDs' specific staff development needs related to informatics. Predictors of interest included jurisdiction size and governance type. RESULTS: Areas of workforce development and improvement in informatics staff of LHDs included using and interpreting quantitative data, designing and running reports from information systems, using and interpreting qualitative data, using statistical or other analytical software, project management, and using geographical information systems. Significant variation in informatics training needs exists depending on the size of the LHD population and governance type. CONCLUSION: Substantial training needs exist for LHDs across many areas of informatics ranging from very basic to specialized skills and are related to the size of LHD population and governance type.