Minority Health Project*
in collaboration with the National Center for Health Statistics,
Final Report on the
2000 Summer Public Health Research Videoconference on Minority Health
The 2000 Videoconference was held June 12-16, 2000, with presentations from 10 nationally-known speakers. John Ruffin, Ph.D., Director of the NIH Office of Research on Minority Health and Linda Burhansstipanov, Dr.P.H., made the opening and Keynote presentations, respectively (see Agenda). Publicity was carried out primarily through email announcements to a list of about 6,000 addresses and several listserves. In a departure from previous years, there was neither a site fee for remote sites nor a registration fee for local participants. Presumably at least partly for this reason, the number of participating sites – over 100 – was substantially greater than in past years (see appendix, Satellite downlink sites). In response to a number of requests, most sessions were also web cast live. The sign-in sheets from the 70 sites that returned them contained 2,135 signatures (average 427/day). The 1905 evaluation forms from those sites appear to come from about 800 different people. Over 90% agreed that the Videoconference was "very valuable" and that they would "highly recommend" it (tabulations are in appendix, Site facilitator evaluation results and appendix, Participant evaluation results). In addition over 600 requests have been received in response to the announcement that NCHS has agreed to distribute complimentary VHS copies of the entire Videoconference (see appendix, Videotape requests). The conference was funded through a $50,000 grant from NCHS/CDC and a $35,000 contribution from the Dean's Office of the School of Public Health.
The Minority Health Project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill developed a course on minority health research in 1994 and presented it for the first time as part of the University of Michigan Summer Epidemiology Program. Since then the course has been presented as a five-day Institute and/or interactive Videoconference at the UNC School of Public Health. The first three Institutes (1995, 1996, and 1997) were attended by approximately 60 participants. The afternoon sessions from the 1997 Institute were broadcast via satellite to over 20 remote sites, from which participants could ask questions and make comments by telephone, fax, and electronic mail. In 1998 and 1999 the combined all-day Institute and afternoon Videoconference were held in the Mayes Telecommunications Center to facilitate videoconferencing, though the location also limited the number of on-site participants to approximately 24. In June 2000, funding constraints permitted holding only the afternoon Videoconference. Nevertheless the number of participants greatly exceeded the total number for to date, thanks to a dramatic expansion in the number of remote sites.
The extent of interest in this year's Videoconference was impressive. Registrations were received through the Videoconference web site from 142 sites in 42 states in the continental United States plus the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Canada. Inquiries were also received from Alaska, Spain, and Switzerland. (Note: several sites that were apparently registered without authorization and several registrations that were duplicates are not included in these figures.) About 50% of the sites were in the eastern U.S., and nearly 40% in the Central States. Universities and colleges, including community colleges, comprised the largest group, with state and local health departments the next largest. Three-fourths (105) of the sites were open to the public, 97 (92%) without charge. Nineteen sites had the capability of transmitting the Videoconference to other locations. Sixteen sites signed up solely for the purpose of taping the Videoconference for later use, generally because they were not in session in June.
About a third of the sites (36%, 47) learned about the Videoconference through an e-mail announcement from a listserv; about a third learned about it from an e-mail sent from the Minority Health Project (13), the Project's web site (8), another web site (3), or a printed announcement (13). Most of the other sites that provided information for this question said that they had been told about it or received a request from a faculty member, administrator, or some other person. Several mentioned that they had participated in previous Summer Public Health Research Videoconferences. Seventy-six percent of technical coordinators and 93% of site facilitators said that they would like to receive announcements about future events.
Thirty-two sites cancelled prior to or during the beginning of the Videoconference, chiefly because their site lacked the ability to receive ku-band or were unable to tune in the specific satellite or frequency. Some of these may have been able to receive the signal with additional local technical expertise, but most of these sites lacked ku-band capability or were at the edge of the coverage area. We have not been able to determine the experience at about 20 sites. Some have not returned sign-in sheets or evaluation forms and have not responded to our inquiries. Five said that they returned evaluation forms but we have no record of them (in some cases the forms we received had no site name or return address, so it is possible that some forms were attributed to the wrong site). The major category of organizations that had to cancel due to inability to receive the Videoconference was local health departments. The list of participating sites, covering 39 states plus the District of Colombia, appears in Appendix B. Three-fourths were open to the public; of these only seven requested a charge. Fifteen sites had no audience because they were taping the Videoconference for later use.
Sign-in sheets and evaluation forms were received from 70 sites. The sign-in sheets documented a total audience size of 2,135 for the week (average 427/day), with 775 unique e-mail addresses. Videoconference attendance was highest on Monday and declined during the week (523, 494, 432, 362 and 324 for Monday-Friday, respectively). The largest numbers of participants were reported by the University of California at Berkeley (126) and UNC-CH (126), followed by the San Diego County Society for Public Health (92), Oklahoma University College of Public Health (79), CDC/Office on Smoking and Health (75), University of Kansas School of Medicine (65) and Morgan State University (65). Several other sites did not provide sign-in sheets or evaluation forms but in response to our follow-up queries did report having some participants, so the actual number is somewhat greater than 2,135. Moreover, 15 sites were taping the Videoconference for later viewing only. If these sites show the tapes at least once, the total audience size could be considerably greater.
Site Facilitator Evaluations
Site facilitator evaluations were returned by 50 (45%) of the site facilitators. These forms included questions about site characteristics, participant involvement, and conference organization. The majority of the evaluations came from the Eastern Time Zone (48%), followed by the Central (36%), Pacific (12%), and Mountain (4%) Time Zones. Most respondents reported that they did not experience problems receiving the broadcast. Problems that were reported were mostly related to difficulty tuning in to the broadcast on the first day (7 sites) or reception problems caused by bad weather on the third day (10 sites).
A significant issue that emerged during the registration period was that many interested sites were equipped to receive only C-band, not ku-band. To assess whether future Videoconferences should be held using C-band, site facilitators were asked whether their site could receive C-band as well as ku-band. A small majority (56%) indicated that their site could receive C-band signals, but it is not clear what this means since only 58% of respondents indicated that their site could receive ku-band, the channel that was actually used for the Videoconference they had just received. Sixteen percent reported capability to receive digital broadcasts as well.
Based on the responses, 80% of the sites had participants who were public health professionals; 62% had participants who were faculty, teachers, and/or researchers; 50% had clinicians in attendance; 44% had students; and 18% had community members. Most of the facilitators agreed or strongly agreed with the following statements regarding participants:
Participants at my site seemed engaged during the videoconference.
Participants found the material interesting and important.
Overall, the site facilitators agreed that the conference was well organized and informative. The majority of the respondents stated that they would recommend this conference to others. A detailed tabulation appears in the appendix.
A total of 1,905 participant evaluation forms were received (more than double the number in 1999). The numbers of forms and the computed response rates based on the sign-in sheets were 487 (Monday, 93%), 427 (Tuesday, 86%), 351 (Wednesday, 81%), 336 (Thursday, 93%), and 304 (Friday, 94%). The largest number of forms came from University of California at Berkeley School of Public Health (104), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (101), University of Texas at Austin (92), Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health (80), University of South Carolina School of Nursing (81), San Diego County Society for Public Health Education (79), and Oklahoma College of Public Health (61). Four participant evaluation forms were received from sites that were only taping.
Participant evaluation forms included questions about each day's session overall, about each speaker's presentation, and about the Videoconference overall (to be answered on the last day the participant attended). All items were answered on the following scale: 1="Strongly agree", 2="Agree", 3="Neutral", 4="Disagree", 5="Strongly disagree". The forms also asked how many days the participant had attended.
We attempted to estimate the number of different people who participated by analyzing the information on number of days attended. To the extent that participants completed forms on each day they attended, then every form indicating attendance for two days should be accompanied by a form indicating one day. Every form indicating three days should be accompanied by forms indicating one day and two days, etc. The following table shows the distribution of number of days attended recorded on 1,676 forms and, by subtraction, the distribution of days of attendance. On this basis a minimum (because of missing data) of 754 distinct individuals completed one or more evaluation forms. The overall ratings, which participants were to complete only on their last day of attendance, were remarkably positive. Over 50% of participants said that they "strongly agree" with the two summative statements:
"Overall, the Videoconference was very valuable."
"I highly recommend the Videoconference."
and an additional 39%-44% said they "agree" (the combined percentages were 95% and 93%, respectively, for 804 and 790 responses).
Across the five days, the great majority of respondents checked "agree" or "strongly agree" for the statements:
Overall, this was an effective day of the videoconference
The topics covered today were appropriate for this videoconference
with mean ratings across the five days ranging from 1.4 to 1.8 for these two items.
Technical quality (picture, sound) was rated somewhat lower, though by Friday the mean rating was very favorable (1.5). Both technical and site facilitator ratings (also good) varied more widely, as expected given the variability across sites. By Friday, however, both received excellent ratings, which probably reflects a learning curve during the week as well as the self-selection of participants.
Not surprisingly, given the Videoconference format, respondents had only moderately favorable opinions about the convenience of asking questions. Only 61% agreed that they could ask questions conveniently; 34% were "Neutral". The very high variability across sites (means 1.2-3.5) suggests that the problems were related to local access to a telephone, fax, and/or e-mail, rather than to the Videoconference itself.
All speakers were rated highly or outstandingly with regard to the appropriateness of their presentation as well as its clarity and understandability. Ratings were somewhat lower for the quality of their presentation materials. Detailed tabulations are presented in Appendix D.
The high level of interest in the Videoconference and the inability of a substantial number of sites to receive it prompted NCHS to offer to distribute complementary videotapes of the entire videoconference. The Project created an on-line request form, posted an announcement on the Project's web site, and sent an e-mail to its distribution list. The response was again impressive. To date, videotapes have been requested by 670 persons from 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, five Canadian provinces, Australia, Ghana, India, Italy, Nigeria, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland (WHO), Turkey, Unied Arab Emirates, UK, and Zambia (see tabulation in Appendix E).
Most requests – over half of those indicating an organization type – came from universities and colleges. Over half of the remaining requests were evenly distributed across other research organizations, federal government, state government, and local government including health departments. Seventeen percent listed "other" as their organization type, and 55 did not provide information.
Evaluation summary – overall
Evaluation summary – by day
Appendix: Videotape Requests
* Department of Maternal and Child Health, Rosenau Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7400, 919-843-6758, 919-966-0458 fax, email@example.com, www.minority.unc.edu
Last revised 4/13/2001, Victor_Schoenbach@unc.edu