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Evaluation of an Emergency Department Visit Data Mental Health Dashboard

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Local health departments (LHDs) need timely county-level and subcounty-level data to monitor health-related trends, identify health disparities, and inform areas of highest need for interventions as part of their ongoing assessment responsibilities; yet, many health departments rely on secondary data that are not timely and cannot provide subcounty insights.


We developed and evaluated a mental health dashboard in Tableau for an LHD audience featuring statewide syndromic surveillance emergency department (ED) data in North Carolina from the North Carolina Disease Event Tracking and Epidemiologic Collection Tool (NC DETECT).


We developed a dashboard that provides counts, crude rates, and ED visit percentages at statewide and county levels, as well as breakdowns by zip code, sex, age group, race, ethnicity, and insurance coverage for 5 mental health conditions. We evaluated the dashboards through semistructured interviews and a Web-based survey that included the standardized usability questions from the System Usability Scale.


Convenience sample of LHD public health epidemiologists, health educators, evaluators, and public health informaticians.


Six semistructured interview participants successfully navigated the dashboard but identified usability issues when asked to compare county-level trends displayed in different outputs (eg, tables vs graphs). Thirty respondents answered all questions on the System Usability Scale for the dashboard, which received an above average score of 86.


The dashboards scored well on the System Usability Scale, but more research is needed to identify best practices in disseminating multiyear syndromic surveillance ED visit data on mental health conditions to LHDs.

Keywords: data display; mental health; public health surveillance

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2023

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