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TB Notes 3, 2007
Director's Letter
Highlights from State and Local Programs
  Georgia Statewide TB Training
NTCA Workshop Poster Contest
2007 EIS Conference a Success for DTBE
National Tuberculosis Indicators Project (NTIP): An Update
Evaluation Team Visits TB Isolation Village in Thailand
TB Education and Training Network Updates
  Member Highlight
  Cultural Competency Subcommittee Update
Communications, Education, and Behavioral Studies Branch Update
  A Review of DTBE’s First Year Using the CDC INFO Call Center
Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Outbreak Investigations Branch Updates
  TB/HIV Surveillance in Ethiopia
TB Epidemiologic Studies Consortium Updates
  2007 World TB Day: TBESC Sites Across the U.S. Get Involved
  “The First Global Symposium on Interferon-Gamma Assays” 2007
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TB Notes Newsletter

No. 3, 2007


A Review of DTBE’s First Year Using the CDC INFO Call Center

February 2007 marked the 1-year  anniversary of DTBE’s use of CDC INFO services, instead of DTBE staff, to respond to TB questions from persons outside of CDC. CDC INFO is a contract service employed by CDC to respond to consumer, provider, and partner inquiries, via phone and e-mail, with the intent of providing a central CDC access point to the public.

CDC INFO was first launched in February 2005, with a limited number of CDC programs utilizing this service. DTBE began using CDC INFO as part of the second implementation phase in 2006, along with several other CDC programs. By 2008, all CDC programs will be using CDC INFO to respond to inquiries from the public and health care professionals.

CDC INFO consists of three staffing tiers, with each group responsible for responding to different levels of inquiries. Those in tier 1 answer questions from the general public and are required to use scripted responses. Tier 2 staff answer basic inquiries from health professionals and may use scripted responses or search DTBE-approved websites for appropriate answers. Those in tier 3 respond to questions from health professionals and have the option to use approved content, information from Internet searches, or personal knowledge to answer questions. Tier 3 employees are required to be health professionals, whereas tier 1 and tier 2 staff are not.

The transition to CDC INFO from an in-house system of answering public inquiries about TB (i.e., the Duty Officer system) required significant input and oversight by DTBE staff. In preparation for the transition, DTBE developed scripted responses about TB for CDC INFO, notified partners and customers about the transition through existing CDC communication systems (e.g., DTBE website, CDC Public Inquiries phone line), developed procedures for DTBE staff to handle complex inquiries escalated from CDC INFO, and provided TB training for CDC INFO staff. As part of continuous quality assurance, DTBE monitors e-mail responses daily and a sample of phone call responses quarterly.

To ensure that CDC INFO employees are capable of addressing TB questions accurately, DTBE created and provided scripts, or prepared responses. DTBE staff provided in-person and teleconference training for CDC INFO staff to ensure everyone knew key facts about TB, such as the difference between latent TB infection and active TB disease. Initial development of prepared responses was based on an internal assessment of DTBE staff previously responsible for answering inquiries from the public. Usage statistics for DTBE’s website also helped determine frequently requested information. Material in the prepared responses was customized for CDC INFO by tier to meet the needs of the different types of inquirers. New prepared responses and revisions to existing prepared responses are added to the CDC INFO database as needed.

At the conclusion of the first year, DTBE reviewed data on CDC INFO to determine its effectiveness as a communication tool and examine the overall benefits and drawbacks of this system. CDC INFO provides reports to DTBE with process data, such as numbers of telephone calls and e-mails, and TB topics covered.

Between February 2006 and January 2007, CDC INFO received approximately 1,000 e-mail inquiries and about 3,000 phone call inquiries regarding TB. These numbers are estimates because actual numbers of calls and e-mails received per month were not available until October 2006. Nevertheless, the number of inquiries is impressive considering that DTBE did not actively promote the use of CDC INFO beyond the posting notices during the transition period.

Compared to all CDC programs that use CDC INFO, TB topics consistently rank in the top 100 for e-mail inquiries, but have not made the top 100 for phone calls. The three most frequently requested TB topics of inquiry were diagnosis and testing, general information, and transmission. These included questions from the general public as well as from health professionals.

DTBE’s rating of how CDC INFO handles inquiries has improved over time. This suggests that as CDC INFO personnel have become more familiar with TB and the inquiry procedures, the quality of the services being provided and DTBE’s satisfaction with CDC INFO have both increased.

The majority of inquiries in the first year of use were handled solely by CDC INFO, with only a small percentage escalated for DTBE response. Certain inquiries are automatically escalated to DTBE, such as those from other federal agencies. Others are escalated to DTBE because CDC INFO is unable to answer the question with available resources. Also, CDC INFO often refers inquirers to their state TB control office or their national TB control program, if living outside the United States, for further assistance.

CDC Info Logo - 1 800-CDC-INFO (1800 232-4636), TTY:888-232-6348. In English/en Espanol-24/7Despite limitations, CDC INFO provides many benefits to its customers and DTBE. Not only do CDC INFO staff provide TB information in English and Spanish 24-hours a day, they are capable of handling an increased volume of inquiries from a wide audience. DTBE would not have been able to provide these services without assistance from CDC INFO. In addition, CDC INFO provides a means to assess what TB information the public seeks. This has enabled DTBE to create new education materials to address information gaps and helps guide the redesign of the DTBE website.

Contact CDC INFO for information about TB and other health topics. CDC INFO is available by phone at 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636) or e-mail (

—Reported by Holly Wilson, MHSE, CHES
Div of TB Elimination


Released October 2008
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Division of Tuberculosis Elimination -

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