Making a Powerful Connection: the Health of the Public and the National Information Infrastructure. 6.2 Scenario 2: Multimedia Public Action Campaign Reduces Deaths Due to SIDS


A state public health official is comparing the most recent data on deaths due to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in his state with data that has systematically been added to the state database during the previous year. During that period, the public health department initiated a special campaign to educate hospital officials, health professionals, and new parents on the importance of infant sleep position in reducing SIDS. Working through the Internet, a task force representing health professional groups, managed-care plans, hospitals, public libraries, and community service organizations developed and implemented a comprehensive state-wide plan. Multimedia bulletins were developed and made available through the Internet summarizing the results of research implicating sleep position in SIDS and illustrating correct and incorrect sleep positions. Long-distance learning programs focusing on sleep position and SIDS were established for health professionals. Modules on sleep position were added to interactive videodiscs prepared for parents taking infants home from the hospital and coming in for well child care visits.

The graphically displayed data for the past two years indicate that the campaign has been successful in reducing in-hospital SIDS, even when the appropriate adjustment is made for reductions in the time infants spend in hospitals after birth. In-home SIDS has also been reduced in most parts of the state. Linking the SIDS data to other state-wide information resources, the state public health official explores several possible explanations for the lack of reduction in in-home SIDS in certain jurisdictions, such as language barriers (the SIDS educational material was produced in English and Spanish only), and less frequent visits to clinicians providing reminders. Since the incidence of SIDS is higher in jurisdictions with a lower percentage of immunized babies, this latter explanation seems plausible. The task force is reactivated with additional members from the identified communities to target interventions in these areas.