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Conducting Public Health Surveillance & Communicating Data in MCH

Developed by: 

Marie Thoma – Assistant Professor, Department of Family Science, University of Maryland, School of Public Health 

Naheed Ahmed – Doctoral Candidate, Department of Family Science, University of Maryland, School of Public Health 

Jessica Gleason – Doctoral Candidate, Department of Family Science, University of Maryland, School of Public Health 

Public health surveillance is a cornerstone in the practice of MCH. Few undergraduates have the opportunity to engage in hands-on experiences working with large population-based epidemiologic data. This may be due, in part, to different skill levels & experience with statistics & statistical programs. However, technological advances have provided new approaches for working with & evaluating national & state-level data that do not require the use of data analysis software. This project takes advantage of available data tools developed to assess key MCH indicators. It enables students to work interactively with MCH surveillance data & develop reports describing the epidemiology of a specific MCH topic of interest to their state. Although geared towards undergraduate public health students, it can be adapted for masters-level students. As a part of this educational offering, students are provided with a lecture on Public Health Surveillance & a review of HP2020 MCH Objectives. Students are divided into groups based on select topics of interest to MCH & availability of information from online epidemiologic data tools. Students are introduced to 2 data tools: Peristats from the March of Dimes & CDC Wonder from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. In their groups, student generate a Data Brief modeled after the National Center for Health Statistics’ (NCHS) Data Brief Reports. A post-project survey is administered to students to assess knowledge & skill development in MCH course content & surveillance. 


This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UE8MC25742; MCH Navigator for $225,000/year. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.