State health departments did a better job of communicating information quickly to the public than local health departments at the start of the H1N1 outbreak this spring, according to a new report published online in the journal Health Affairs.
After HHS declared a public health emergency on April 26 for the disease—commonly referred to as swine flu—the health department Web sites for 46 states and Washington, D.C., had posted some information specific to H1N1, and all but two of those required at most one click for users to obtain basic content, according to the study. In addition, 43 states provided information for individuals on how to protect themselves and others, while 36 provided advice on when to seek treatment, and 30 states provided information for medical providers. Results for local health departments, however, were less favorable, the study showed.
“In contrast to what was observed for states, only 34% (52 out of 153) of local health department Web sites we sampled provided any information specific to swine flu within 24 hours after the declaration of a public health emergency,” researchers from RAND Corp. wrote in the report.