By Tricia Aung
On November 8, I attended the American Public Health Association (APHA) 2022 conference held in Boston to present my poster “Data visualization for action: sensemaking and preferences among nutrition stakeholders in Nigeria.” This was my second time attending APHA; I had last attended in 2018 for an oral presentation on a study focused on data visualization for maternal, newborn, and child health decision-makers in Tanzania. I started designing the Nigeria nutrition data visualization study in Spring of 2021 while working at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health on the Data for Decisions in Nutrition (DataDENT) project, which is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The objective of the study was to explore data visualization literacy and preferences among stakeholders working in the nutrition sector in Nigeria. The study included 177 online survey respondents and 8 follow-up interviews. I conducted the interviews remotely in January 2022 while a first year HCDE PhD student, and analyzed the survey and interview data in the first half of 2022. In October, my colleague shared study results at the Nigeria National Nutrition Data and Results Conference. This experience to present at APHA was the first time the study results were shared in the U.S.
During my poster presentation slot, I had a steady stream of visitors that asked really thoughtful questions and represented researchers that have both participated in CHI/CSCW and public health conferences. It was really helpful to learn their experiences participating in both types of conferences and the types of feedback they receive on their work by different communities.This will be informative as I think about sharing my work in more HCD-related platforms. I also found it interesting how public health-related data visualization has evolved since my first APHA experience in 2018. At that point, the idea of intentionally visualizing public health data based on audience sensemaking and needs was more novel. COVID-19, undoubtedly the most visualized pandemic ever, may have built momentum on the need for more user-centered data visualization in global health. My poster presentation (and workshop I led on visualizing data for epistemic justice at the Achieving Health Equity in a World of Data conference) were great opportunities to share work before my preliminary exam, and reflect on how research methods can evolve to avoid reinforcing systemic harms. Finally, I submitted a paper on the Nigeria nutrition data visualization study for peer-review, and the conference presentation contributed to modifications before submission. Thank you for the opportunity to attend APHA 2022!