6 IPS Staffing and Supervision
Historically, there are multiple ways in which IPS programs have been staffed:
- All DIS conduct IPS
- A limited number of select DIS are assigned to conduct IPN in order to more adequately manage the work and assure quality
- Designation of a specific DIS to act as the point person for all IPS activities to ensure consistency of services by a highly skilled individual
- Contract with a university or CBO to conduct some or all of IPS
No staffing model has proven to be more effective than another. Rather, each model has been successful in different jurisdictions. One published study has compared IPS staffing models. 31 The North Carolina Department of Health found that the centralization of IPS activities, compared to all DIS conducting IPS, resulted in increased notifications as well as a higher yield of new HIV and syphilis diagnoses.
Regardless of the model used, anecdotally programs have found that when interviewing patients, those DIS who are familiar with popular websites, mobile apps and other online meeting venues are able to gather more information about a patient’s sex partners and sex-seeking activities.
|Whether all DIS conduct IPS or only one does, it is helpful during partner service interviews when all DIS are familiar with popular websites, mobile apps, and other online meeting venues.|
As with all partner services activities, effective supervision can reduce the likelihood of error, demonstrate the program’s commitment to quality assurance and improvement, reduce the risk of misusing the Internet and other technologies for non-work related activities, and build the skills and competencies of staff conducting the intervention.
Supervisors typically maintain a list of all IPS-related passwords and screen or profile names used or referred to by the patients. Additionally, they have access to all exchanges made between DIS and patients, including interview records, field records, IPS logs, and any other documentation, electronic or written, in order to evaluate staff activities, provide feedback, and assess quality assurance.
For IPS to be successful in meeting its program goals, STD/HIV programs will need to provide supervisors and staff with training specific to the use of technology for PS. See Appendix K for a list of suggested trainings. Ongoing support and training for IPS staff are important, as technology is constantly changing. Depending on the training topic, it is often helpful to conduct a pre-training assessment to determine staff’s knowledge, attitude, skills, and beliefs about IPS. New IPS staff may also find it useful to “shadow” experienced DIS, particularly when exploring websites frequented by target populations. This helps new DIS gain familiarity with how these sites work and to understand the sites from a public health perspective.
As with other partner service elements, other key program staff are encouraged to attend trainings on IPS, as needed. For example, it may be beneficial for administrative staff, such as receptionists at STD clinics, to be aware that some patients may use their profile names when coming to a clinic or may only be known to the DIS by a profile name. Understanding IPS can help all staff provide the best and most appropriate care to patients. Another important part of training include peer-to-peer sharing. The National Internet Partner Services (NIPS) Workgroup hosts quarterly calls open to DIS, managers and others interested in hearing more. These calls provide peer to peer support and information sharing on the use of technology for partner services through case studies, presentations, overviews of specific websites and new social technology tools and discussions. See below or Appendix L for information on how to join these calls.
National Internet Partner Services (NIPS) workgroup
To subscribe to the NIPS List-serve:
Please send an email from the account you wish to use, to List@cdc.gov
Include the following information in the body of the email using this format: “SUBSCRIBE [listname] [your firstname] [your last name]”:
Example: SUBSCRIBE NATIONAL-INTERNET-PARTNER-SVC frank strona