Informatics Research Seminar: Social Network Analysis of Public Health Personnel during H1N1

March 16 @ 4:00 – 5:00 pm


Speaker: Stephanie W. Haas, PhD
Presented from UNC-CH



Social network analysis (SNA) refers to the study of interactions among a set of actors, organizations, or other social entities. Researchers use SNA to understand individual actions within the context of structured relationships, or the structures themselves. A network –based analysis is ideally suited to visualizing, describing, and analyzing public health systems. The North Carolina Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Center (NCPERRC) is applying SNA in a pilot study of communication among public health preparedness personnel. The study describes communication and information sharing patterns among North Carolina public health professionals during the 2009 H1N1 outbreak. For example, how do public health personnel generally learn about outbreaks and ongoing situations? Was there anything different about the H1N1 outbreak? Triangulating communication patterns with other descriptions and measures of performance will help identify successful structures. In this presentation, Dr. Haas will introduce SNA methods and use examples from the pilot study to describe how these methods can be applied to measure and evaluate public health systems and services.


Stephanie W. Haas, PhD is a Professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She received her PhD in Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh. Her research interests focus on information representation, especially terminology and sublanguages, and how representations enhance or impede work processes. She has worked extensively with emergency department patient records, researching means of analyzing free text fields such as the chief complaint and triage note. She is currently an investigator on an NLM-funded project to improve information extraction from triage notes for real-time syndromic surveillance. She is also an investigator on the CDC-funded North Carolina Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Center (NCPERRC) Surveillance Project, where she is studying communications and information flow in the North Carolina public health system, and use of information repositories such as NC DETECT and NC EDSS by public health staff.