Use of a Web Forum and an Online Questionnaire in the Detection and Investigation of an Outbreak

Tammy Leigh Stuart Chester, Marsha Taylor, Jat Sandhu, Sara Forsting, Andrea Ellis, Rob Stirling, Eleni Galanis


A campylobacteriosis outbreak investigation provides relevant examples of how two web-based technologies were used in an outbreak setting and potential reasons for their usefulness. A web forum aided in outbreak detection and provided contextual insights for hypothesis generation and questionnaire development. An online questionnaire achieved a high response rate and enabled rapid preliminary data analysis that allowed for a targeted environmental investigation. The usefulness of these tools may in part be attributed to the existence of an internet savvy, close-knit community. Given the right population, public health officials should consider web-based technologies, including web fora and online questionnaires as valuable tools in public health investigations.

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Online Journal of Public Health Informatics * ISSN 1947-2579 *