Active and passive surveillance for communicable diseases in child care facilities, Seattle-King County, Washington

Am J Public Health. 1997 Dec;87(12):1951-5. doi: 10.2105/ajph.87.12.1951.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to develop and evaluate models for public health surveillance of illnesses among children in out-of-home child care facilities.

Methods: Between July 1992 and March 1994, 200 Seattle-King County child care facilities participated in active or enhanced passive surveillance, or both. Reporting was based on easily recognized signs, symptoms, and sentinel events. Published criteria were used in evaluating surveillance effectiveness, and notifiable disease reporting of participating and nonparticipating facilities was compared.

Results: Neither surveillance model was well accepted by child care providers. Enhanced passive and active surveillance had comparable sensitivity. Reporting delays and the large amount of time needed for data entry led to problems with timeliness, especially in terms of written reporting during active surveillance.

Conclusions: Widespread active public health surveillance in child care facilities is not feasible for most local health departments. Improvements in public health surveillance in child care settings will depend on acceptability to providers.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Administrative Personnel / psychology
  • Attitude to Health
  • Child Day Care Centers*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communicable Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Disease Notification / methods*
  • Disease Notification / standards
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Time Factors
  • Washington / epidemiology
  • Workload