Understanding the data-action cycle of surveillance: A qualitative study of federal and state stakeholders
This qualitative study aims to understand how personnel in state and federal agencies view surveillance systems and the extent to which systematically collected data inform nutrition and physical activity policies and interventions addressing obesity. In-depth interviews were conducted with 17 respondents purposively sampled from state health departments, federal public health agencies, and prevention research centers. All informants acknowledged the importance of surveillance systems and influence of the data-action cycle for monitoring trends and increasing obesity awareness. However, state-level respondents believed surveillance systems should be designed for programmatic purposes, whereas federal participants thought they should be designed for monitoring. Respondents held differing opinions about the flexibility, timeliness, accessibility, and usefulness of existing national surveillance systems, highlighting significant differences in state and federal agencies’ perceptions and utilization of surveillance systems. Such discrepancies call for increased communication surrounding purposes and uses of surveillance data, enabling stronger partnerships between state and federal agencies.