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Bull Med Libr Assoc. Jul 1999; 87(3): 329–336.
PMCID: PMC226593

Public health professionals in the Midwest: a profile of connectivity and information technology skills.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to assess Internet connections and information technology skills of public health workers in the Midwest. METHODS: A questionnaire was mailed to 713 local health departments (LHDs) in the ten states of the Greater Midwest Region. RESULTS: Three hundred forty-four LHDs (48%) responded. Overall, 85% own a computer that would allow Internet access. Half provide Internet access to some or all staff. Of these, two-thirds use e-mail and half search the Web. One-half are linked to the State Health Department, and 30% are linked to other local health departments. Over half use CDC-Wonder; less than 20% search MEDLINE. Two-thirds of the respondents expressed an interest in MEDLINE training, and three-fourths are interested in learning more about the Internet. Sixty-nine percent of respondents planned to enhance electronic communication capacity within the next year. CONCLUSIONS: Public health practitioners need timely, convenient access to information to aid them in improving the health of the American public. A majority of public health departments in the Midwest are technically capable of connecting to the Internet. This technological capability, combined with an expressed desire by public health agencies to have workers become computer literate, suggests an important role for health sciences librarians.

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