Healthy communications: producing a health report (Infowatch) for monitoring and promoting health in local communities.
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In order to bridge the gap between producers and users of community health data, we have developed a standardized format to provide a simple, comprehensive approach to the communication of epidemiologic data at the local level. Infowatch follows a series of format and style rules selected to enhance readability. The four-page format is divided into six sections: introduction and scope; "results" presented as charts, figures and text; policy implications (through consultation with community groups); methodological summary; references for self-study; and, invitation for reader feedback. An editorial committee comprising experts and representatives from local interest groups ensures that the data presented are relevant and of high quality. The content of each Infowatch issue varies depending on community priorities. Infowatch is distributed to 3,000 people, including representatives from health-related, academic, governmental and non-governmental agencies. Five areas assess qualitatively the impact of Infowatch: reader, media, policy, education, and solicited responses. Overall, response from all categories has been favourable with evidence of infiltration into policy.
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