Research Priorities for Syndromic Surveillance Systems Response: Consensus Development Using Nominal Group Technique

Uscher-Pines et al. (2010) full text summary PDF

For which topic were research priorities identified?

syndromic surveillance

In which location was the research priority setting conducted?

North America - USA

Why was it conducted at all?

While a large body of research has been devoted to improving the usability and usefulness of the systems themselves,9 a previous review conducted by our group revealed surprisingly few investigations directed toward response and investigation to systems' signals. Further evidence of a knowledge gap comes from a comprehensive assessment of the content of abstracts from the 2008 International Society for Disease Surveillance annual conference. Submitted abstracts were disproportionately focused (more than 75%) on systems' issues (eg, comparisons of detection algorithms or sensitivity and specificity of data sources), in contrast to response planning or methods. While research on the performance characteristics of systems is warranted, the lack of research on response is concerning. Numerous experts have compared syndromic surveillance systems to smoke detectors, which cannot reach their full potential without the timely public health response launched after aberration detection. Recently, there has been increasing emphasis on translational research, or research that can be translated relatively quickly into beneficial impacts on patient care and clinical practice. Similarly, engaging the public health community in finding research priorities should provide valuable information for more effective translational research.

What was the objective?

to identify a set of fundable and practically feasible research priorities in the field of syndromic surveillance response on the basis of expert consensus

What was the outcome?

a ranking list of 19 research questions

How long did the research prioritization take?

1 day

Which methods were used to identify research priorities?

survey; workshop

How were the priorities for research identified exactly?

Step 1: workshop: with nominal group technique, participants discussed the question: If you had a research team available to you to explore some burning question that you have (with respect to syndromic surveillance response) what would you ask them to do?, participants privately recorded opinions followed by round robin feedback session, 45 research topics were mentioned, research questions were then clarified and categorized. Step 2: survey 1: participants independently rated research questions in response to the statement: This research question/topic is a priority for study to inform syndromic surveillance response. Step 3: survey 2: participants were asked to rate research question's fundability and feasibility

Which stakeholders took part?

Health departments at the city, county, state, and federal levels, academia, military. Workshop: 11 participants. Survey 1: 11 participants. Survey 2: 11 participants.

How were stakeholders recruited?

Experts were selected via 2 processes: (1) recommendations from the public health practice committee of the International Society for Disease Surveillance; and (2) review of the authors of relevant publications on syndromic surveillance systems response.

Were stakeholders actively involved or did they just participate?

Stakeholders were mere participants of the research prioritization process; they were not actively involved in the process.