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Reframing Public Health Informatics: A Communications Toolkit

Navigate to sections within this toolkit.

Communications Tools

These tools are intended to serve as guidance for communicators who are speaking about public health informatics, from its importance to the field of public health, to what informaticians do in the course of their work.  


Quick start guide to reframing public health informatics

Framing is a process of making choices about what to emphasize (for example, clear explanations of how informatics contributes to solving public health problems) and what to leave unsaid (for example, jargon). This abbreviated guide provides a quick tour of themes to avoid, compared with alternatives to advance. It is intended to be used alongside other materials in the communications toolkit. The relevant materials are referenced in each row.

Values for communicating public health informatics

Overcoming fatalism and making public health informatics tangible are key goals of communicating about the field. This tool suggests values to emphasize in communications about public health informatics in order to achieve these goals.

Metaphors for communicating public health informatics

When introducing new and complex concepts to an audience, relating these hard-to-grasp concepts to ideas the audience already understands can make them more comprehensible. FrameWorks proposes three explanatory metaphors to clarify the role of public health informatics and the role of informaticians.

Examples of explanatory metaphors

When put into action, FrameWorks' explanatory metaphors can be used to illustrate the work of informaticians. These examples show how public health professionals can make their points more clearly and connect with their audiences more effectively using the metaphors.

Public health informatics talking points

These talking points can be used flexibly: as a source of themes for longer written pieces, as short explanations in interviews, or as set-ups to help frame conversations about specific policy or program proposals. Each models the recommended framing strategies(metaphors, values, and examples) that have emerged from FrameWorks’ work on how to fill in cognitive holes about public health informatics and shift thinking away from unproductive assumptions about the field and what it does. Each includes notes that describe the framing strategy involved, and these talking points illustrate how framing can be applied flexibly.

Informatics elevator speeches

When public health professionals are in situations in which they want to communicate an idea, but they only have a few seconds, they need well-framed “elevator speeches.” These speeches help them accomplish two crucial, but difficult, goals every time: say why the field of public health informatics matters, and explain it.

Public health informatics: "you say, they think" chart

This graphic illustrates how statements that sound reasonable to an informatician (“You Say”) may call up listeners’ unproductive, but dominant, habits of thought (“They Think”) and suggests framing strategies that can make your messages more effective.

Informatics communications FAQs: staying on frame in real time

These sample question-and-answer sequences help to model effective answers to frequently asked questions about public health informatics. The examples come from the kinds of questions commonly raised by public health practitioners, potential funders and policymakers. The reframed sample answers are not intended as “correct answers” to questions that might come up, but rather as illustrations of how to apply FrameWorks’ evidence-based recommendations to talk more effectively about public health informatics.