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Reframing Public Health Informatics: A Communications Toolkit

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Introduction

Toolkit background

Informatics touches nearly every subfield of public health, but the discipline is often invisible to public health professionals – even though their work benefits from the innovations in data collection and information sharing that informatics brings to the field. Because informatics is not well known by professionals who are not experts in the field, it can be difficult to communicate about what informaticians do and how their work supports public health. It also makes it challenging to recruit and develop a public health workforce that fully incorporates informatics expertise. The purpose of this toolkit, therefore, is to facilitate more productive communication about public health informatics.

The FrameWorks Institute conducted this work on behalf of the Public Health Informatics Institute (PHII), a program of the Task Force for Global Health, with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. FrameWorks also wishes to thank the Georgia Department of Public Health and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) for their contributions to this project.

This toolkit includes:

  • “Big picture” guidance on how to talk more effectively about public health informatics, including a Quickstart guide that reviews the topline recommendations, “reframed answers” to a set of FAQs, and sample talking points, examples, and elevator speeches.
  • “Reframe cards” that can be used as quick reference guides for incorporating the evidence-based values and metaphors into conversations, presentations, and writing.
  • Sample communications, including sample PowerPoint slides, a sample grant application narrative, and animated metaphor GIFs that can be used in presentations or incorporated into web content. The grant application includes detailed notes that unpack the framing strategies illustrated, so that the recommendations can be extended to myriad new applications.

How to use this toolkit

The toolkit is divided into sections that are intended to improve ease of use for readers:

  • Background reading provides some contextual resources on the field of public health informatics and the research that demonstrated the need for this toolkit.
  • Communications resources provide guidance for how to talk about public health informatics to an external audience.
  • Sample communications provide examples of how the message proposed by the toolkit can be put into action.

This toolkit is intended to be used by anyone interested in communicating about informatics, and in particular, it can be used by public health professionals who work in:

  • State and local public health departments.
  • Federal public health agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Other public health associations and organizations.

The content is available to the public, and users are encouraged to borrow the toolkit language and creatively adapt the examples and recommendations to talk about informatics with internal and external audiences across the broad fields of public health and health care, as well as the disciplines that intersect with this work. No citations or special permissions are needed for these public-facing applications. For other uses of toolkit materials – such as incorporating these materials into trainings or another communications resource – please refer to FrameWorks Institute’s terms of use for guidance on seeking permissions.

For more information, please refer to the Frameworks Institute.

This toolkit was supported through cooperative agreement no. U38OT000216-2
from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).