Information Needs of Public Health Staff in a Knowledge Translation Setting in Canada

Mê-Linh Lê

Abstract


Introduction: In response to emerging public health crises in the early 2000s, the Government of Canada recognized the need for a more coordinated public health approach and launched the six National Collaborating Centres for Public Health (NCCPH). The information needs and information-seeking behavior of public health professionals is a relatively understudied area. In this paper, the results of a survey of NCCPH staff is provided and discussed as a means to help fill this gap in the literature. Also examined is the use of information specialists to ascertain whether they are being used to their full potential. Methods: A combination of telephone interviews, a literature review, and a questionnaire distributed to relevant staff. Results: The results indicated some similarities with previous studies such as a reliance on journal articles and colleagues as information sources. It was also shown that staff is unaware of many information resources now available. Training was indicated as a potential area of skills-based growth, as most staff have received limited instruction on searching and information retrieval skills, and required competencies can change frequently as new services, tools, and databases are introduced. Discussion: There is a strong inclination from the staff surveyed to seek information on their own, without the use of an information specialist. However, respondents indicated they are challenged most in their information seeking by a lack of time and awareness of what resources are available, two knowledge areas for which an information specialist is uniquely qualified. Awareness must be raised of the specialized skills of information specialists and how they are able to assist in the information-seeking and retrieval process.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5596/c13-001

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