Developing an Asynchronous Training on Role of Environmental Health Specialists in Maintaining Environmental Data Integrity

Date posted: 
Monday, September 19, 2022 - 09:45
Blog poster: 
Reem Tariq and Eric Aschenbach
Email of Blog Poster: 

Since 2003, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has been collecting statewide data for Environmental Health (EH) programs which have helped the agency move towards making data-driven decisions.  In 2019, VDH transitioned to a new cloud-based enterprise data system, Environmental Health Database (EHD), which houses statewide data for more than 12 Environmental Health programs. During the development of EHD, VDH identified a complete list of data entry fields with a specific focus on the most critical data entry fields. While environmental health professionals at VDH have been collecting data since 2003, the quality and completeness of data entry remain an ongoing challenge. Poor data quality has hindered the development of informatics capability for EH programs. To address this challenge, VDH in partnership with the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), hosted a four-part interactive webinar series on the role of environmental health professionals in maintaining environmental and public health data integrity. This webinar series was recorded, and the recordings were placed on VDH TRAIN to serve as asynchronous training. This pilot training was launched to create awareness about data quality and data analysis among EH staff in the Three Rivers Health District in hopes of improving data quality and introducing the core concepts of data-based decision-making. The series featured modules on the importance of data quality, data standardization and accountability, data quality improvement, and data analysis and visualization. The pilot training was designed to reinforce the idea that improved data quality leads to better decision-making across an organization since one can have higher confidence in one’s decisions based on high-quality data. Good data decreases risk and can result in consistent improvements in results. VDH and NEHA believed that creating awareness about data quality and data analysis among EH staff would result in the improvement of data quality and introduce the core concepts of data-based decision-making to a broader employee pool, which can significantly influence how EH hazards are identified and addressed in the future.  The data awareness trainings were designed to have a long-lasting impact on the VDH informatics program.

Training Details

Webinar 1

The first webinar of the four-part series focused on the importance of data quality and included the following competencies:

  1. The importance of environmental data integrity;
  2. Understanding the life cycle of environmental and public health data;
  3. Five key characteristics of data quality;
  4. Understanding data completeness; 
  5. Understanding data accuracy; and
  6. Understanding data consistency.

This session was led by Dr. Molly Mitchell who serves as the Research Assistant Professor at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science's Center for Coastal Resources Management.

Webinar 2

The second webinar of the four-part series focused on the following competencies:

  1. What are data standards;
  2. What are the benefits of data standards;
  3. How do data standards contribute to quality information;
  4. Why it is important to meet the data standards; and
  5. Who is accountable for incorrectly entered data and why does it matter.

This session was also led by Dr. Molly Mitchell.

Webinar 3

The third webinar of the four-part series focused on the following competencies:

  1. Why is data relevant and important to environmental health specialists working at local health agencies and how can they use public health and environmental data; 
  2. Six-step process to improve data quality;
  3. What does data quality improvement look like in practice; and
  4. Ideal versus practical application of data quality improvement cycle.

This session was led by Mr. Tim Callahan who serves as the Evaluation & Support Program Director at the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Webinar 4 

The fourth webinar of the four-part series focused on the following competencies:

  1. Steps to analyzing environmental data; and
  2. A practical guide to analyzing and visualizing environmental data through MS Excel (creating quick data visuals, merging datasets, pivot tables, concatenation, removal of duplicate entries).

This session was led by Tim Powell who serves as the Director of Public Health Informatics at the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). 


NEHA conducted a pre- and post-webinar survey for each training module. The overall evaluation of the pilot training sought to assess how effective the modules had been in informing the environmental health professionals on the importance of EH data integrity. The pre-webinar surveys were conducted to ascertain the knowledge level of each participant on the various learning competencies. Attendees were granted 4 minutes of time prior to the webinar presentation to complete the pre-webinar survey. The post-webinar surveys were conducted to determine the level of learning that occurred, the clarity of the content presented, attendee satisfaction, and the overall effectiveness of the webinar. The post-webinar surveys were completed after each webinar. The results from the evaluation show that the modules did indeed improve awareness and knowledge levels for all four webinars. Many survey respondents noted that the examples and hands-on instructional exercises were the most helpful part of the webinar. Most respondents agreed that the webinar content was relevant and applicable to their jobs and provided them with the much-needed skills to achieve success in their positions.


EH Topics: 


Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect the policy, endorsement, or action of NEHA or the organization where the author is employed. NEHA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.  

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