Evaluating the Feasibility and Participants’ Representativeness of an Online Nationwide Surveillance System for Influenza in France

Abstract : The increasing Internet coverage and the widespread use of digital devices offer the possibility to develop new digital surveillance systems potentially capable to provide important aid to epidemiological and public health monitoring and research. In France, a new nationwide surveillance system for influenza-like illness, GrippeNet.fr, was introduced since the 2011/2012 season based on an online participatory mechanism and open to the general population. We evaluate the recruitment and participation of users to the first pilot season with respect to similar efforts in Europe to assess the feasibility of establishing a participative network of surveillance in France. We further investigate the representativeness of the GrippeNet.fr population along a set of indicators on geographical, demographic, socioeconomic and health aspects. Participation was widespread in the country and with rates comparable to other European countries with partnered projects running since a longer time. It was not representative of the general population in terms of age and gender, however all age classes were represented, including the older classes (65+ years old), generally less familiar with the digital world, but considered at high risk for influenza complications. Once adjusted on demographic indicators, the GrippeNet.fr population is found to be more frequently employed, with a higher education level and vaccination rate with respect to the general population. A similar propensity to commute for work to different regions was observed, and no significant difference was found for asthma and diabetes. Results show the feasibility of the system, provide indications to inform adjusted epidemic analyses, and highlight the presence of specific population groups that need to be addressed by targeted communication strategies to achieve a higher representativeness in the following seasons.
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PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2013, 8 (9), pp.e73675. 〈10.1371/journal.pone.0073675〉
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Marion Debin, Clément Turbelin, Thierry Blanchon, Isabelle Bonmarin, Alessandra Falchi, et al.. Evaluating the Feasibility and Participants’ Representativeness of an Online Nationwide Surveillance System for Influenza in France. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2013, 8 (9), pp.e73675. 〈10.1371/journal.pone.0073675〉. 〈hal-01618752〉

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