Reframing Public Health Informatics

A FrameWorks Communications Toolkit

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Welcome to Reframing Public Health Informatics—a collection of evidence-based framing recommendations and sample communications designed to help the public health workforce talk about informatics – what it is, how it works, and why its contributions are so important to achieving the goal of improved population health.

Informatics touches nearly every subfield of public health, but the discipline is often invisible to public health professionals – even though their work benefits from the innovations in data collection and information sharing that informatics brings to the field. Because informatics is not well known by professionals who are not experts in the field, it can be difficult to communicate about what informaticians do and how their work supports public health. It also makes it challenging to recruit and develop a public health workforce that fully incorporates informatics expertise. The purpose of this toolkit, therefore, is to facilitate more productive communication about public health informatics.

The FrameWorks Institute conducted this work on behalf of the Public Health Informatics Institute (PHII), a program of the Task Force for Global Health, with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We also wish to thank the Georgia Department of Public Health and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) for their contributions to this project.

This toolkit includes:

  • “Big picture” guidance on how to talk more effectively about public health informatics, including a Quickstart guide that reviews the topline recommendations, “reframed answers” to a set of FAQs, and sample talking points, examples, and elevator speeches.
  • “Reframe cards” that can be used as quick reference guides for incorporating the evidence-based values and metaphors into conversations, presentations, and writing.
  • Sample communications, including sample PowerPoint slides, a sample grant application narrative, and animated metaphor GIFs that can be used in presentations or incorporated into web content. The grant application includes detailed notes that unpack the framing strategies illustrated, so that the recommendations can be extended to myriad new applications.

This toolkit is intended to be used by anyone interested in communicating about informatics, and in particular, it can be used by public health professionals who work in:

  • State and local public health departments.
  • Federal public health agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Other public health associations and organizations.

The content is available to the public, and users are encouraged to borrow the toolkit language and creatively adapt the examples and recommendations to talk about informatics with internal and external audiences across the broad fields of public health and health care, as well as the disciplines that intersect with this work. No citations or special permissions are needed for these public-facing applications. For other uses of toolkit materials – such as incorporating these materials into trainings or another communications resource – please refer to FrameWorks Institute’s terms of use for guidance on seeking permissions.

For 15 years, FrameWorks Institute research has demonstrated that effective communications can help activate the public’s engagement with complex social and scientific issues. Our approach seeks to find ways of explaining an issue that can build a broad base of public will for an issue, identifying frames that can build engagement and understanding. To learn more about the approach to reframing that informs this toolkit, visit our website.

This toolkit was supported through cooperative agreement no. U38OT000216-2
from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Big Picture

New to framing? These materials offer a succinct overview of how to talk about public health informatics.


Quickstart Guide to Framing

Take a quick tour of communications themes to avoid, compared with alternatives to advance.



Stay on message in the face of difficult questions.


Talking Points, Examples, and Elevator Speeches

Use these key messages to help build the public health field’s understanding of and support for informatics.

Anticipate Public Thinking

It can be hard to get your messages through. With preparation, you can head off challenges.


Strategic Map the Gaps Report

Compares the perspectives of public health informatics experts and non-experts to arrive at a set of priorities for building understanding of the field.


"You Say, They Think” Chart

Anticipate how messages go astray – and see how to keep them on track.

Key Framing Guides

Useful guides to stay on frame.



Use these tested values when communicating about public health informatics.



Use these tested explanatory metaphors when communicating about public health informatics.

Sample Communications

These materials model how to apply the tested frame elements to your communications.

PowerPoint Slides

Download these editable, customizable PowerPoint slides to use in presentations about public health informatics.

Reframed Grant Application

Follow the steps to reframing a grant application narrative in this “before and after” example.


Download these Explanatory Metaphor GIFs to use in your communications.