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How To... - Disseminate Data
Basic Concepts for Disseminating and Communicating Surveillance Data

Before developing a data report, be very familiar with the data so you know the current issues, trends in the specific health indicators and differences in the data among racial and ethnic groups. After studying the data and the corresponding graphics presented in your data report, you are ready to consider communicating and disseminating the PedNSS and PNSS data. To ensure the use of surveillance data communicate the data in a way that facilitates their use for public health action.

Dissemination and communication cannot be used interchangeably.

  • Dissemination is a one-way process to convey information from one point to another.

  • Communication is a loop process involving a sender and a recipient. The communicator’s responsibility is complete when the recipient of the information acknowledges receipt and comprehension of that information.


Basic Framework for Disseminating Surveillance Data

A basic framework for disseminating surveillance results with the intent of communication is presented in Principles and Practice of Public Health Surveillance (Teutsch and Churchill, 2000). This model includes the sender, the message, the receiver, the channel and the impact. The sender is the person, program, or agency responsible for surveillance. Key components of the process include the following:

  • Establish communications message - What should be said?
  • Define the audience - To whom should it be said?
  • Select the channel - Through what communication medium?
  • Market the message - How should the message be stated?
  • Evaluate the impact - What effect did the message create?


Establish Communications Message

The communication objective or purpose of the state PedNSS and PNSS data report should, in part, reflect the purpose of nutrition surveillance by describing trends and patterns in key indicators of maternal and child nutrition status in low-income populations. Messages might include describing changes in specific health indicators and the impact of the changes in the state or increasing awareness of a public health problem in specific groups.


Define the Audience

Identifying target groups is a crucial part of the process of developing strategies to communicate and disseminate surveillance data. Determine who needs to hear about the nutrition surveillance results. Key target groups include public and private health care providers, professional and volunteer organizations, academic institutions, and policy makers such as state legislators. When you have defined your target audience, gear everything to that audience.


Select the Channel

After you have determined the message and the audience for your nutrition surveillance results, decide on the appropriate method to communicate the information. Traditionally, surveillance data have been disseminated through published reports. However, other methods such as electronic dissemination may allow you to reach a larger segment of your target audience. Examples of communication options include publications such as a written surveillance report and newsletters; electronic channels such as audio-conference and Internet posting; media such as news releases and fact sheets; and public forums such as conferences and other planned meetings.


Market the Message

It is critical to make sure that the information is effectively communicated and not merely disseminated to those who need to know.

  • Use graphics to effectively make a point.
  • Focus your message by selecting the most important point and then stating the point as a simple declarative sentence in which you indicated what is new and who is affected.
  • Present information in a way that captures the audience’s interest and focuses attention on a specific issue. For example, use introductory terms such as "Recent findings………." and "Information just released…." rather than "Based on recent surveillance findings…….."


Evaluate the Impact

Because public health surveillance is oriented toward action, an evaluation should focus on 1) whether surveillance information was communicated to those who needed to have it and 2) whether the information had a beneficial effect on the problem(s) of interest.

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United States Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity

This page last updated March 04, 2010

United States Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity