Evaluation of harmful algal bloom outreach activities

Lora E Fleming, Eva Jerez, Wendy Blair Stephan, Amy Cassedy, Judy A. Bean, Andrew Reich, Barbara Kirkpatrick, Lorraine Backer, Kate Nierenberg, Sharon Watkins, Julie Hollenbeck, Richard Weisman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


With an apparent increase of harmful algal blooms (HABs) worldwide, healthcare providers, public health personnel and coastal managers are struggling to provide scientifically-based appropriately-targeted HAB outreach and education. Since 1998, the Florida Poison Information Center-Miami, with its 24 hour/365 day/year free Aquatic Toxins Hotline (1-888-232-8635) available in several languages, has received over 25,000 HAB-related calls. As part of HAB surveillance, all possible cases of HAB-related illness among callers are reported to the Florida Health Department. This pilot study evaluated an automated call processing menu system that allows callers to access bilingual HAB information, and to speak directly with a trained Poison Information Specialist. The majority (68%) of callers reported satisfaction with the information, and many provided specific suggestions for improvement. This pilot study, the first known evaluation of use and satisfaction with HAB educational outreach materials, demonstrated that the automated system provided useful HAB-related information for the majority of callers, and decreased the routine informational call workload for the Poison Information Specialists, allowing them to focus on callers needing immediate assistance and their healthcare providers. These results will lead to improvement of this valuable HAB outreach, education and surveillance tool. Formal evaluation is recommended for future HAB outreach and educational materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)208-219
Number of pages12
JournalMarine Drugs
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Blue green algae
  • Brevetoxins
  • Ciguatera fish poisoning
  • Ciguatoxins
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Florida red tide
  • Harmful algal bloom (HAB)
  • Human health effects
  • Neurotoxic shellfish poisoning (NSP)
  • Outreach and education
  • Poison information centers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Aquatic Science


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