The objective of the lecture is to understand: the important role of surveillance in public health (and clinical) practice; how to link the design of a surveillance system to the objectives that it serves; what types of data might be used for surveillance; approaches to data collection, analysis and reporting; and the need for quality and governance standards, as well as clear operating procedures. The lecture includes brief descriptions of examples of systems that exemplify many of the principles outlined, and notes common pitfalls in the design and operation of surveillance systems.
Surveillance is first and foremost a process for producing information that will trigger, inform or be used to evaluate defined public health (or clinical) action. If there is no clear and immediate link between the information output of an activity and existing or planned public health action then it is unlikely that the activity is surveillance.
Public health action that is informed by good quality surveillance is likely to be both more effective and more efficient than action that is undertaken in the absence of surveillance. A good surveillance system should provide timely, accurate and relevant interpreted information while at the same time minimising the burden placed on data providers.
The Role of SurveillanceThe Components of SurveillanceObjectives of Surveillance – Inputs and OutputsSurveillance or Research?Criteria for SurveillanceSources and Types of DataSurveillance System Design and Operation Quality, Governance and Operating ProceduresAnalysis, Interpretation and DisseminationOpportunities and Challenges
After reading this chapter, you will be better able to: