Evaluation of harmful algal bloom outreach activities
© 2007 by MDPI (http://www.mdpi.org). Reproduction is permitted for noncommercial purposes.
With an apparent increase of harmful algal blooms (HABs) worldwide, healthcare providers, public health personnel and coastal managers are struggling to provide scientifically-based appropriately-targeted HAB outreach and education. Since 1998, the Florida Poison Information Center-Miami, with its 24 hour/365 day/year free Aquatic Toxins Hotline (1-888-232-8635) available in several languages, has received over 25,000 HAB-related calls. As part of HAB surveillance, all possible cases of HAB-related illness among callers are reported to the Florida Health Department. This pilot study evaluated an automated call processing menu system that allows callers to access bilingual HAB information, and to speak directly with a trained Poison Information Specialist. The majority (68%) of callers reported satisfaction with the information, and many provided specific suggestions for improvement. This pilot study, the first known evaluation of use and satisfaction with HAB educational outreach materials, demonstrated that the automated system provided useful HAB-related information for the majority of callers, and decreased the routine informational call workload for the Poison Information Specialists, allowing them to focus on callers needing immediate assistance and their healthcare providers. These results will lead to improvement of this valuable HAB outreach, education and surveillance tool. Formal evaluation is recommended for future HAB outreach and educational materials.
The funding for this study was provided by the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Florida Harmful Algal Bloom Taskforce, as well as the National Science Foundation and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Oceans and Human Health Center at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School (NSF 0CE0432368; NIEHS 1 P50 ES12736), the former National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Marine and Freshwater Biomedical Sciences Center at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School (NIEHS P30ES05705), and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Red Tide POI (P01 ES 10594).
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Vol. 5 (4), pp. 208 - 219
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