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National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology (NICHSR)

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Introduction to Health Services Research : A Self-Study Course

Case 4: Bioterrorism -- Community Preparedness (Page 1 of 49)

Case Description

Although no actual cases of bioterrorism have occurred in the United States since the downing of the World Trade Center in September 2001, many agencies and organizations - as well as the public - are concerned about the possibility of another attack and need to know how to prepare for such an attack.

A recent RAND Corporation report defined public health emergency preparedness as, "The capability of the public health and health care systems, communities and individuals to prevent, protect against, quickly respond to and recover from health emergencies, particularly those whose scale, timing or unpredictability threatens to overwhelm routine capabilities. Preparedness involves a coordinated and continuous process of planning and implementation that relies on measuring performance and taking corrective action." (News Release).

Understanding the various types of bioterrorism emergencies and disasters is critical to providing quality bioterrorism information to first responders, health care providers, public health practitioner, and to the public. (see DHS Disasters & Emergencies page for more information).

As a librarian or public health practitioner, you have a key role in identifying resources for providing community preparedness information to your community. Questions range from how to protect individual homes to how to find examples of bioterrorism preparedness public health programs already in place. Health services research literature can help to answer the pertinent questions relating back to this single question: How can communities prepare for bioterrorism?

The following Case background, objectives and exercise will help you think about the project.

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