Promoting Environmental Public Health Tracking through a Coordinated Communication Campaign...not as easy as it sounds!

Lisa B. Hines, MPH, CHES

Marnie Boardman

Alison Cox, BS, CHES

Sara Ishado


The link between environment and health remains largely unknown. Understanding how contaminants and other environmental factors are linked to chronic disease is essential to disease prevention in the U.S.  CDC's National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network is a web-based system that integrates health and environmental data from around the country.  CDC and 17 state and local health departments are building this Tracking Network which we believe will help our stakeholders make more informed decisions to protect individuals and communities.  It is also a resource for citizens, families, and communities looking for environmental public health information about where they live, work, and play, but only if they know that it exists. In addition to all of the scientific and information technology roles required to build such a complex network, communication is also vital. 


Challenges abound for this program including scientific, technical, and logistical.  We will describe how CDC and Tracking grantees address these challenges using communication, stakeholder involvement, and evaluation.  For almost two years, we have implemented a carefully timed and coordinated national and local communication campaign to drive awareness, use, participation, and support for the Tracking Network.  Our audiences consist of many groups whose levels of technical understanding vary widely, further challenging appropriate communication messaging. Some of our audiences are environmental and public health professionals, assessment practitioners, epidemiologists, data stewards, community groups, policy makers, the public, and the media. 


We describe the goals, strategies, and activities of this coordinated plan at the national and local levels.  Attendees will see the tools and resources developed by CDC and by the Tracking Grantees for this program.  We discuss evaluation strategies and challenges, and share lessons learned from the federal and state perspectives.