Characterizing Public Health Actions in Response to Syndromic Surveillance Alerts

How to Cite

Rivera, L., Savage, R., Crowcroft, N., Rosella, L., Ye, L., Bolotin, S., Lou, W., & Johnson, I. (2016). Characterizing Public Health Actions in Response to Syndromic Surveillance Alerts. Online Journal of Public Health Informatics, 8(1).


Fifteen public health units (PHUs) in Ontario, Canada were randomized to the intervention (9) or control (6) arm of a study on their responses to alerts for respiratory syndromes from emergency department data. The intervention PHUs implemented a standard protocol while the control PHUs continued with usual practices. Intervention PHUs were 3 times more likely to check for alternate explanations. Control health units decided that more alerts warranted a response (53%) but most of these were "watchful waiting". For intervention PHUs, the proportion requiring action was lower (18%). Less than 10% of the alerts led to action.
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