Research Priorities for Syndromic Surveillance Systems Response

Consensus Development Using Nominal Group Technique

Published in: Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, v. 16, no. 6, Nov./Dec. 2010, p. 529-534

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2010

by Lori Uscher-Pines, Steven M Babin, Corey L Farrell, Yu-Hsiang Hsieh, Michael D Moskal, C Gaydos, R Rothman

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Objective: To identify a set of fundable and practically feasible research priorities in the field of syndromic surveillance response on the basis of expert consensus. Methods: The nominal group technique was used to structure an expert panel meeting in February 2009. Eleven national experts participated in the meeting, representing health departments at the city, county, state, and federal levels as well as academia and the military. Results: The expert panel identified 3 research topics as consensus research priorities. These included the following: (1) How should different types of evidence and complementary data systems be integrated (merging data, visualizations)? (2) How can syndromic surveillance best be used in an electronic medical record environment? and (3) What criteria should be used to prioritize alerts? All identified research priorities were considered to be moderately highly fundable and feasible by an external group of experts with a record of obtaining grant funding in the field of biosurveillance. Conclusions: Prioritized research needs clustered around the common theme of how best to integrate diverse types and sources of information to inform action; thus, the major challenge that health departments are facing appears to be how to process abundant alert data from dissimilar sources. The nominal group technique in this study provided a method for systems' monitors to communicate their needs to the research community and can influence the commissioning of research by funding institutions.

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