Public Health and Data Collection


This work outlines six key tenets of public health programs and their influence on how people perceive health information. It is broadly categorized into two sections of analysis. In the first part, I will explain how public health officials collect, compile and disseminate health data. In the second segment, I will highlight the effects of culture on people’s perception of health information, including its advantages and disadvantages in the use of public health data. In the last section of this analysis, we will explore the usefulness of public health data to different levels of government.

How Public Health Officials Collect Data

Public health officials are responsible for collecting accurate, reliable, and valid data. They could gain access to such information through community forums, public hearings, interviews, focus groups, surveys, and community resource inventories.

How Public Health Officials Compile Data

Public health officials could compile data using different techniques. Data mapping is often applied in instances where the data collection process covers a large geographical area, such as a county, country or continent. Comparatively, software is used when there are large data to be compiled and the process cannot be easily completed manually. Lastly, the stochastic simulation method is employed in situations where specialized data are needed in public health research. Compiling data using these techniques helps officials to understand a cross-section description of the population and the potential impact of health risk factors on a community or population sample.

How Public Health Officials Disseminate Data

The process of data dissemination is a lengthy. Commonly, the first step public health officials take in this process is to establish the communication message. Secondly, they need to define the audience. It would help in selecting the right communication channels that would best appeal to their targeted demographic. After that, they often market the health message and evaluate how it has impacted the population after a predetermined period. A key part of the data dissemination process is the selection of the right communication channels to reach the intended audience. In the next slide, I will explain media that are used by health officials to reach their target population.

The dissemination of data should be done effectively to spread public health information to the intended audience. Policy makers and local communities also need to understand the same information because data is often collected to benefit them. Public health officials frequently use multiple channels to reach their intended audiences. Television, radio, print media, social media campaigns and posters are common methods that have been successfully employed to disseminate data. Institutionalized methods of data dissemination include formulating school programs to reach target populations and forging partnerships with community leaders to reach audiences that would not be accessible through traditional media.

Effects of Culture on How People Perceive Health Information

Different cultures have belief systems that explain the origin of diseases, how they could be avoided and who should be involved in the process. The extent to which people perceive health information through these cultural lenses could have a profound impact on the efficacy of the same information because it will influence how they use it to improve their health. Culture could affect people’s perception in different ways. For example, it could moderate people’s interaction with healthcare service providers and influence how they relate. In this context, it could have impact on the way communities react to the role of public health workers in health care management. The second way in which culture affects people’s perception of health information is through varied compliance with treatment options. Indeed, some cultures promote the need to adhere to doctor’s instructions, while others deem the same issue as a secondary concern. For example, cultures that prefer alternative medicine may look at available treatment options as secondary to their traditional treatment strategies. Therefore, they may not be compliant. Some cultures also determine people’s experiences and expressions of pain, which may, in turn, influence how they perceive the seriousness of diseases or health issues. The stigmatization of certain diseases or illnesses may also occur because of cultural considerations, thereby causing the same effect. Beliefs about the causes of diseases are also moderated by culture and may prompt some communities to dismiss health information that presents a contrary diagnosis. This analysis shows that culture could have both positive and negative effects on communities.

Positive Effects of Culture on the Perception of Health Data

Culture could have a positive effect on the perception of health data because it could provide a support system that people rely on when managing their health issues. At the same time, culture could help to create awareness of patient roles and expectations in healthcare management, thereby motivating people to be active participants in the same process. This advantage is also related to the spread of health data because societies that have strong support systems also provide the infrastructure needed for the dissemination of health data. For example, if people are communal, they are likely to increase awareness about health issues through word-of-mouth communication. Lastly, culture could improve the relationship between healthcare service providers and community members, especially in societies that appreciate the role of contemporary medical research in human development.

Negative Effects Of Culture On The Perception Of Health Data

Culture could also have a negative effect on people’s perception of health data by limiting their desire to acquire health information and lowering their estimation of the seriousness of health issues. For example, highly patriarchal societies are prone to these problems because they promote masculine traits at the expense of common logic. Culture could also slow-down health decision-making, thereby limiting people’s effectiveness in using available health data for their benefit. The stigmatization of certain health issues, the reduction of people’s ability to understand the health data and the creation of mistrust between healthcare service providers and community members are other negative ways that influence people’s perception of health data.

Use Of Public Health Data In Different Governmental Levels To Positively Impact Social Determinants Of Health

The efficient use of public health data is essential in the promotion of positive health values. Indeed, government health bodies could use this data effectively to achieve major health milestones for their populations. Some key ways, in which governments could use public health data to positively impact social determinants of health, include the use of the same information to inform health policies, track health records, allocate resources, improve education and training capacities, and understand the magnitude and distribution of illnesses and injuries in their jurisdictions.

These contributions of public health data to the healthcare management could help to improve several social determinants of health. For example, using this data to inform health policies could help to guide the process of formulating taxation policies for harmful products or protecting the environment for the betterment of human health. The proper allocation of resources could also help in improving housing and educational institutions, which are important social determinants of health as well.


Effective public health management is pivotal in the promotion of human welfare. In this presentation, I have demonstrated that the efficacy of public health programs depends on the proper collection, analysis and dissemination of data. Culture has also emerged as a moderating variable in the implementation of public health programs, but it could be effectively used to improve social determinants of health as well if the government and other health agencies use health data to achieve the same objective at a macro level.


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Magnuson, J., & Fu, P. (2013). Public health informatics and information systems (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media.

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