Development of a Public Health Nursing Data Infrastructure

Members of the public sitting at tables filling out paperwork.

Strengths, limitations, and gaps specific to public health nursing (PHN) data are summarized and a research agenda is proposed for a PHN data infrastructure.

The Issue:
Data sources for public health nursing are diverse and divergent. There are many challenges to working across data sources. To enable evaluation of and improvement to the public health system, better data is needed.

As a result of a national stakeholder meeting held in October 2010, strengths, limitations, and gaps specific to PHN data are presented in this article and a research agenda is proposed. Participants generated 13 research questions. Using the Delphi process, these questions led to the identification of four priority research topics:

  1. Determine the minimum data elements relevant to PHN practice and outcomes;
  2. Outcome indicators that are PHN-sensitive at multiple levels;
  3. Issues of validity and reliability of the essential PHN data elements; and
  4. Use of existing databases to improve quality and safety of PHN practice.

Looking forward, a PHN data infrastructure, and its research possibilities, may improve evaluation and improvement of the public health system.