Understanding public health informatics competencies for mid-tier public health practitioners-a Web-based survey

Chiehwen Ed Hsu, Kim Dunn, Hsin Hsuan Juo, Rick Danko, Drew Johnson, Francisco Soto Mas, Jiunn Jye Sheu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The abstract of this article was orally presented at American Public Health Association Annual Conference Health Informatics Information Technology Section in Philadelphia, PA, USA, November 2009.The literature suggests that there is a need for measuring public health informatics (PHI) competency to further understand whether current educational modules and modalities meet the needs of PHI practitioners and researchers to perform their jobs more effectively, particularly for mid-tier practitioners that constitute the majority of public health workers in the USA. The present study seeks to update current knowledge of the perceptions and experiences of PHI competencies proposed by the U.S. Council on Linkage in Public Health specifically for mid-tier PH practitioners and researchers. The results were collected and analyzed by using a Web-based survey (WBS) method administered among both practitioners and researchers. Researchers first compiled a draft list of candidate competency set by incorporating existing competency areas provided by: 1) the Council on Linkage; and by 2) those proposed by the USA's Centers for Disease Control CDC Public Health Informatics Work Group. Nine sets of competency statements with 120 competency items and demographic information of respondents were included in the WBS. The online survey instruments were pilot-tested accordingly to incorporate feedback from respondents of the pilot. Fifty-six subjects were recruited from PH experts who were: 1) members of the Health Informatics Information Technology (HIIT) group of American Public Health Association; and, 2) members from the Community of Science (COS) Website who were the first authors published in the PHI field from PubMed. The sample included diverse backgrounds of PHI workers. They expressed an increased need for training to improve their PHI competencies. Respondents agreed that four competency sets should be adequately represented, including Leadership and System Thinking Skills (82%), followed by Financial Planning and Management Skills (79%), Community Dimensions of Practice Skills (77%), and Policy Development/Program Planning Skills (63%). The findings parallel current literature indicating that there exists an expressed need for clarification of the public health practitioner's job-specific informatics competency. Findings of expressed needs for basic computer literacy training and community-based practice were consistent with those of the literature. Additional training and resources should be allocated to address the competency of leadership, management, community-based practice and policy advocacy skills for mid-tier public health practitioners to perform their jobs more effectively. Only when healthcare organizations properly identify PHI competency needs will public health practitioners likely improve their overall informatics skills while improving diversification for contribution across multiple settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-76
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Informatics Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Mar

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Informatics


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