Assessing Public Health Workforce Informatics Competencies: A Study of 3 District Health Departments in Georgia

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Journal of Public Health Management and Practice







Despite the increased recognition of the importance of having informatics-competent public health professionals, the competency level of the public health workforce in public health informatics (PHI) has not been examined extensively in the literature.


The purpose of this study was to assess public health workforce informatics competencies in select Georgia health districts and determine the correlates of PHI proficiency.


This study is based on a cross-sectional quantitative study design. We conducted an online self-administered survey of employees from 3 selected district health departments to assess proficiency in foundational PHI competency domains. Three hundred thirty-three respondents completed the survey, with a response rate of 32.5%. A gap score was calculated as a proxy to identify informatics training needs. A path analysis was conducted to assess the relationships among contextual factors and foundational PHI competency domains.


The public health employees participating in this study reported relatively high proficiency in foundational PHI competency. Psychometric testing of the competency assessment instrument revealed 2 foundational informatics competency domains—effective information technology (IT) use and effective use of information. The effective use of IT mediated the relationship between employee-level factors of age and past informatics training and the effective use of information.


The study highlights the importance of improving the ability of public health professionals to leverage IT and information to advance population health. Periodic assessment of staff PHI competencies can help proactively identify competency gaps and address needs for additional training. Short assessment tools, such as presented in this study, can be validated and used for such assessments.


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