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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration
Maternal and Child Health

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Data to Practice— Assessment, Surveillance Data to Practice

The Office of Epidemiology, Policy, and Evaluation (OEPE) provides national leadership in the advancement and utilization of scientific knowledge to inform maternal and child health policy, programs and public health practices for enhancing the health and well-being of women, children and families.  The OEPE utilizes various strategies for providing data that can be used by program managers and policy makers to design effective practices.

The three primary strategies are:

  • Build data capacity at the national, state, and local levels
  • Strengthen the present and future workforce skill levels in MCH epidemiology
  • Disseminate information and strengthen the evidence base in MCH

The essential first step in moving from data to practice is to build the data capacity at various levels.  The Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) began an ambitious program to accomplish that goal for children’s health in the last 10 years.  The MCHB, in coordination with the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, began conducting national surveys of children’s health every two years.  These surveys are unique in that they can provide both national and state-level estimates.  The OEPE also recognized that data capacity could be enhanced through strengthening existing data systems.  In that regard, there has been a concerted effort to integrate existing child health information systems at the state level through grant programs.

It is insufficient to merely strengthen and build data capacity without a skilled workforce to translate the data into information that can be used for practice.  So the second strategy is strengthening the present and future workforce in MCH epidemiology.  This is accomplished by intervening at different levels.  Internships and fellowships are offered for students, particularly those who intend to work at the state or local levels.  Trainings and webinars are offered throughout the year, again, with a focus on those who work at the state and local levels.  The topics include subjects such as: multivariate analysis, multilevel modeling, needs assessment, program evaluation, scientific writing, and geographic information system analysis.

A further step in moving from data to practice is the capacity to make the data easily understandable.  The third strategy is, therefore, to find innovative ways to make the data easily understandable.  The OEPE accomplishes this goal through providing an on-line data query system for the data from all the MCHB’s surveys.  Anyone, regardless of skill level, can query the data set and get instant information about their state, region, or the US.  Further, the OEPE publishes books and reports that are designed to be used by the general public.  These include yearly publications, such as Child Health USA and Women’s Health USA, as well as specialized reports on specific content areas in the surveys.

A clinician with a mother and infant patient