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Characteristics and geographic dispersion of syndromic surveillance systems in the United States in 2008

Citation

Lesesne, S., Rojas Smith, L., & Rein, D. (2010). Characteristics and geographic dispersion of syndromic surveillance systems in the United States in 2008. (RTI Press Publication No. RR-0013-1011). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press. DOI: 10.3768/rtipress.2010.rr.0013.1011

Abstract

To understand the characteristics, scope, and geographic dispersion of syndromic surveillance systems in the United States in 2008, we reviewed information about their existence and characteristics in each state. We abstracted and compiled data from peer-reviewed literature, public reports, news stories, press releases, and Internet sites; we then analyzed the data, using a systematic instrument. For systems that collected emergency department (ED) information, we estimated the percentage of annual ED visits whose data were reported to the system. In 2008, 39 states and the District of Columbia had syndromic surveillance systems. ED records (65 percent) and hospital admissions records (43 percent) were the most common data sources. Respiratory (57 percent) and gastrointestinal (53 percent) syndromes were the most commonly tracked syndromes. On average, systems using ED records covered 47 percent of all visits, though some states had rates higher than 75 percent. The Northeast, Midwest, and Southeast were more likely to have systems than Western regions. We identified wide variance in the sources of data, the syndromes tracked, and the completeness of syndromic surveillance coverage across states. Although some states have well-established systems that capture diverse data at high levels of coverage, many others have small local systems or none.

Author Details

Sarah Lesesne

Sarah B. Lesesne, BS, is a master of science in public health candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Department of Health Policy and Management. Previously, she was a research economist in RTI International’s Public Health Economics program. She provided research assistance on multiple cost-effectiveness models and worked on the economic evaluation of the BioSense program.

David Rein

David Rein

David B. Rein, PhD, is a senior research economist in RTI’s Public Health Economics program. His work specializes in developing cost- effectiveness and disease burden simulation models to directly inform public health decision making.