IMPACT, a quarterly newsletter from NCIPH
May 2016 UNC Gillings School of Public Health

Spring and Summer...Great Times to Collect Field Data

Collect SMART: Survey Management and Response Tools

Primary data collection is a vital activity for local health departments, public hospitals and other community-based organizations. The North Carolina Institute for Public Health has unique capacity to efficiently and effectively gather community input.

Using Collect SMART (Survey Management and Response Tools), a mobile app and project management dashboard, we partner with local agencies that need efficient, cost-effective data collection to inform and evaluate public health efforts. Our data collection method produces data of high validity and reliability that are generalizable to the community of interest.

Collect SMART uses the Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) two-stage cluster sampling method to divide populations of interest into randomly selected, geographically distinct clusters (such as census blocks) where a selected sample of households is interviewed. CASPER can be used to obtain a snapshot of health needs and concerns for decision makers, either in the community as a whole or in targeted populations. Learn more about Collect SMART capabilities.

NCIPH's Collect SMART system for sample selection, data management, and project management.

Collect SMART for Community Health Assessments (CHA)

Based on regulatory requirements, local health departments and hospitals regularly conduct community health assessments in their catchment areas. When there are multiple hospital systems and community partners, collaboration can become complicated.

To gather data needed for their 2016 assessment process, Guilford County public health partners asked the Institute for help. Partners in the county include: High Point Regional-UNC Health Care, Moses Cone Health, Guilford County Department of Public Health, Foundation for a Healthy High Point, United Way of Greater Greensboro and Greater High Point, and UNC- Greensboro’s Department of Public Health.  

Collect SMART allows these partner agencies to conduct a collective community health opinion survey that addresses each hospital catchment area as while also capturing information on the entire county. The tool will then aid in assembling the data so it can be used to create a unified community approach to public health concerns. 

Like Guilford, Durham County will be using Collect SMART to conduct two different community health opinion surveys, a county-wide survey and another focusing on predominantly Spanish-speaking neighborhoods.  The tool will also be used by the Richmond County Health Department with their 2016 assessment process.

Not Just for CHAs

The Collect SMART tool and door-to-door sampling method also has great utility for other public health projects, which would benefit from highly reliable health data collection methods.  Through a REACH (Redefining and Empowering Adolescent and Community Health) grant, Edgecombe and Richmond County Health Departments partnered with NCIPH to utilize Collect SMART to accurately gauge community views on teen pregnancy prevention

Later this year, Collect SMART has the potential to be used during the state’s hurricane season, allowing localities to quickly collect community-level data that will guide resource allocations to areas of greatest need. 

By developing Collect SMART the Institute has combined forward-thinking technology with best practice efforts it has been using for over a decade. To find out how we can help you use Collect SMART, contact Matt Simon at or 919-966-0925. 

Skill Building and Coaching Advances Evidence-based Public Health Training

EBS 2.0 group at work

EBS 2.0 activity engages NC public health staff.

Since 2013, the Institute has partnered to offer Evidence-Based Strategies for Public Health Practice training for North Carolina’s local public health workforce. When evaluating our efforts in 2015, we discovered practitioners wanted more advanced training to help them adapt, implement a-nd evaluate specific evidence-based strategies (EBS) in their own communities. Enter EBS 2.0!

In February 2016, 37 participants took part in EBS 2.0 training in Greenville, NC. The competency-based training included four self-paced online modules and a two-day in-person workshop focusing on a specific menu of strategies for obesity prevention. After the training, participants were invited to participate in three intensive coaching webinars, including strategy selection, partner engagement, implementation and evaluation.

Avia Mainor, workforce development specialist at the Institute is excited about the curriculum improvements. “It was wonderful to work with such dynamic partners to develop the original curriculum and then to work with them to implement changes based on what practitioners said would improve their experiences.”

The Institute’s training partners include UNC-Chapel Hill’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Granville-Vance District Health Department, Population Health Improvement Partners and Eastern AHEC (Area Health Education Center). Funding for the expanded training came from an AHEC Campus Innovation Grant awarded to the Institute. Get more information about the training program.

NCIPH Staff Profile:  Avia Mainor, MPH

Avia Mainor

Avia Mainor

Avia Mainor, workforce development specialist, joined the Institute in February 2014, coming from the UNC Center for Health Promotion Disease Prevention. Mainor started her life in public health when she was a senior at Carolina interning with Carmen Samuel-Hodge, a research assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition in the Gillings School of Global Public Health and the Departments of Medicine and Social Medicine in the UNC School of Medicine.

Mainor’s internship with Samuel-Hodge focused on a program in rural churches to manage diabetes. The experience was an eye-opener for the Duplin County native and it helped her to decide to pursue a career in public health.  She has participated in Team Epi-Aid activities, has led a Health Promotion Disease Prevention-Institute training collaboration, and has worked closely with Lisa Harrison, director of the Granville-Vance Public Health Department, another alum. Mainor received her MPH in Public Health Leadership from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008.

Today, Mainor spends about 1/3 of her time providing Evidence-Based Strategies for Public Health Practice and EBS 2.0 training for staff in local public health agencies. Outside of work, she is a super supportive aunt, traveling back and forth to Raleigh to be with her seven nieces and nephews who are involved in sports and 4-H! Learn more about Avia Mainor on our website.

Patrick Fine talking with students, staff and faculty

Patrick Fine (right), talking with students, staff and faculty. Photo credit Jennie Saia.

An emergency room in Iraq prior to receiving training and support on improving
quality of care. Photo courtesy Dr. Jaff.

ER Improvements in Iraq and Clean Diapers in NC – National Public Health Week 2016

This year at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, the Institute and the Gillings Global GatewayTM collaborated to celebrate National Public Health Week April 4–10, 2016. We kicked-off the week’s celebrations with a Public Health Behind the Scenes podcast interview with Patrick Fine, CEO of FHI 360.

Fine joined students, staff and faculty at UNC Gillings to talk about his career in service from Peace Corps to USAID to FHI 360. He also provided advice to those wanting to work in international development.

Throughout the week, staff, students and faculty at met with experts in the fields of implementation science and health in areas of conflict. In a visually moving lecture, Dr. Dilshad Jaff, a Baghdad-trained physician, described his efforts to help primary health centers in disputed areas of Iraq, Health in the Shadow of War: Realities and Challenges.

The quality of emergency services has largely received little attention in countries in crisis, yet, improving quality of emergency health services is vital to improving the level of population’s health in these settings.

We also learned that nearly one in three families in our state struggles to afford diapers. The Diaper Bank of North Carolina works with community partners to help deliver diapers to families in need. For their unwavering service, we honored the organization with this year’s Public Health Champion Award. You can listen to their story online at or on iTunes by searching for the podcast, Public Health Behind the Scenes. And to keep it real, many of us volunteered during the week to package much-needed diaper donations.

3 babies in diapers

Nearly one in three NC families whose children need diapers struggle to afford this basic purchase. Photo courtesy of the Diaper Bank of N.C.

Selling Healthy Food in Hospitals: It's a Delicate Balancing Act

     Orange and cookie on scale


More worksites and healthcare facilities are increasing access to healthy foods for employees and customers using the Partnership for a Healthier America Hospital Healthier Food Initiative Commitments and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) / General Services Administration (GSA) Health and Sustainability Guidelines. However, little research exists about the challenges nutrition directors and their staff face as they implement changes. 

As part of a cooperative agreement with the National Network of Public Health Institutes and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, the Institute recently completed an analysis of how food service operators are handling the new guidelines.

Using a mixed-methods approach, the Institute’s team, including six nutrition department graduate students, worked with five hospital food service operators and four federal worksite food service operators who recently implemented the food service guidelines. The team examined: 1) barriers to and facilitators of implementation, 2) behavioral design strategies used to promote healthier foods and beverages; and 3) how implementation of the food service guidelines and commitments influenced costs and profitability. The participants completed an online survey and an in-depth interview.  Some participants followed up by supplying a number of “success stories.”

Barriers and Facilitators

Barriers included inadequate selections of healthier foods and beverages, customer complaints, customer resistance to reduction or removal of fried and high sodium foods, and lack of time and expertise to execute menu labeling. Facilitators included leadership support, adequate food and beverage selections, and dietitians available to help workers implement the guidelines.

Behavioral Design Strategies

The most frequently used strategies included posting clear signage and icons denoting healthier options, marketing using social media and other promotional materials, having an onsite dietitian to answer questions/provide samples, and placing healthier options in prime locations (e.g., healthy check out, healthier items at eye level).

Costs and Profitability

While most participants noted increased costs related to training staff, food and equipment (to replace fryers), all participants said sales had either stayed the same or increased since implementation of the healthier food service guidelines. 

“As the team reviewed responses, it found several common keys to success” noted Dr. John Graham, project lead.  “Particularly important were leadership and client support for changes, industry and vendors’ ability to provide healthier guideline options, regular communication with customers, management, and staff and an on-site help.” 

The research findings recently appeared in the Journal for Human Nutrition and Dietetics. For more information, contact John Graham at

Upcoming NCIPH Trainings

Check out our upcoming training offerings on our website with highlights below.

NC Local Health Department Accreditation
Site Visitors Training June 2016 Invitations extended to new and current site visitors
Achieving Success with Accreditation* July 6-7, Raleigh, NC
July 14-15, Boone, NC
July 25-26 Greenville, NC
Registration opening soon to local health department staff through Wake, Northwest and Eastern AHECs.
Enhanced Role Nurse Programs
Child Health Training Program August 2-December 2  Registration closes June 15
Physical Assessment of Adults and STD Nurse Clinician Training Combined Practicum Course August 23, 2016 – August 20, 2017 Registration opens July 1
NC Occupational Safety and Health Education and Research Center
39th Annual Occupational Safety and Health Summer Institute July 24-29, 2016 24 courses
Early registration fee until June 23, 2016. Registration open now.
Asbestos Courses   Registration open
Certified Safety Professional (CSP) Review Course October 31-November 4, 2016 Registration open
Fundamentals of Industrial Hygiene Online August 23-December 16, 2016 Registration open
Fundamentals of Occupational Safety Online August 23-December 16, 2016 Registration open
Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting June 23, 2016 Registration open
2016 Southeastern Atlantic College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (SEACOEM) Annual Symposium August 20-21, 2016 Registration opening in June 2016
New Hanover Regional Medical Center Leadership Development Program May, June, July, September, November Custom training; invitation only
Pediatric Nutrition Course Module 3: Nutrition for Specific Disease Conditions July 11- September 16 Now open for registration  
Annual School Nurse Conference October 12-14 Registration opens July 1
Introduction to Principles and Practices of Public Health Nursing November 7-9 Registration opens this fall
NC Local Boards of Health Trainings Scheduled on request Find out how to request a training

* Offered in partnership with Eastern AHEC, Northwest AHEC and Wake AHEC

Also view our Training Website with over 170 free online trainings!

Questions? Contact us at