Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Andy's Data Blog: Random musing from a data nerd

Book learnin’, trivia, and practical information: what’s your preference?
By CFPS Epi, Andy Woster
The Gestalt Psychologist, Kurt Lewin, described field theory in the context of psychology and behavior in the 1940s. Prior to Lewin field theory had been used by physicists to model and describe the interaction of multiple forces. (I know what you’re thinking, but hang in there.) When I learned about field theory in my “Environmental Psychology” course during my second year in college, our discussion of Lewin’s “life space” was sophomoric. In fact, I remember only one thing about “life space,” that there were things that existed beyond our awareness that impacted our behavior. At that time, I wondered what those things might be. “I already knew about a pizza delivery deal each night of the week! What more could there be to know?” Well, except maybe how to properly dispose of all those pizza boxes!
Today, I realize more often than comfort dictates that I am unaware of just about everything. For instance, did you know the calculator on your iPhone will display scientific functions if you turn it sideways? How about that little gas tank and arrow on your gas gauge? On a number of cars this symbol can let you know that which side of the car to fuel up on. (This isn’t true for all cars, of course. That would be too easy!) Maybe you just didn’t know that you needed an ID to purchase compressed air to clean your keyboard (One person’s trash is another person’s party?).
It’s not possible to know everything and arguably no one should strive to. I am here, however, to provide you with a morsel (or two) that may make your CFPS life easier. If you’ve not already discovered this, you can login and test it. Once I share with you this little tidbit, you will call me a godsend. (That was intentionally imperative, 303-692-2477.) When you are completing case reviews and entering data into the case reporting system there is a small question mark behind the majority of the questions. Allowing your mouse to hover over those little question marks will trigger a dialogue box which often provides the criteria to objectively answer the question in question (☺). Did you also know that selecting the help section from the left-hand menu of the case reporting system provides you with access to webinars and supporting documentation from the national center? From here you can access the data dictionary and see the definitions for nearly all of the case reporting system questions and the criteria necessary for answering those questions. This is a really useful tool for those moments when you’re just not sure if a question is to be answered based on the documentation or the subjective opinion of the team.
So, there it is. In one brief paragraph I just completely revised your entire CFPS data entry experience. In all seriousness though, I hope you will be able to access some resources you were previously unaware of and this will make your life ever-so-slightly easier. Our partners at the National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention work diligently on these definitions and neglecting them makes concrete interpretation of our data more difficult by creating a space where people use varying criteria to answer the same questions. This variation limits our understanding of the data and slows our progress toward effective prevention.
Did you know you know the take-out box from your recent order of Chinese also doubles as a fold-out plate?

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