Characterizing Public Health Actions in Response to Syndromic Surveillance Alerts

Laura Rivera, Rachel Savage, Natasha Crowcroft, Laura Rosella, Li Ye, Shelly Bolotin, Wendy Lou, Ian Johnson


Fifteen public health units (PHUs) in Ontario, Canada were randomized to the intervention (9) or control (6) arm of a study on their responses to alerts for respiratory syndromes from emergency department data. The intervention PHUs implemented a standard protocol while the control PHUs continued with usual practices. Intervention PHUs were 3 times more likely to check for alternate explanations. Control health units decided that more alerts warranted a response (53%) but most of these were "watchful waiting". For intervention PHUs, the proportion requiring action was lower (18%). Less than 10% of the alerts led to action.

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Online Journal of Public Health Informatics * ISSN 1947-2579 *