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Healthcare-associated Infection (HAI) Outbreak Standardized Variables List

In order to maximize learning from outbreaks, public health and providers should use standardized variables. Which variables should be collected will vary by setting and outbreak. However, regardless of the outbreak or information to be collected, we strongly urge the use of standardized variables. This listing of Healthcare-associated Infection (HAI) Outbreak Standardized Variables, along with the associated REDCap database, are resources which state and local public health jurisdictions or health organizations can use when deciding what information is most appropriate to collect as part of an HAI outbreak investigation. Existing standards and validated instruments were used to inform the development of these variables. A unique feature of this resource is the inclusion of information related to health equity.

Adoption of this standardized list of variables for HAI outbreak investigation can help increase the comprehensiveness and quality of data collected and better equip the field to conduct future analyses that expand knowledge on risk factors for HAI outbreaks. Systematic HAI outbreak data collection can also lead to enhanced synchronization of data across facilities, jurisdictions, and time, facilitating the identification of common outbreak sources, themes, and trends, which can help inform and strengthen prevention efforts over time.

The standardized variables list has been organized to facilitate information gathering at the outbreak, facility, and patient levels, and includes variables that capture information related to health equity. Collecting certain health equity-related variables included in these forms may not necessarily help halt an active outbreak but can identify potential existing health inequities involved in HAI outbreaks and inform future prevention measures.

Health equity-related variables (e.g., facility or patient address, zip code, or county) can be obtained retrospectively after the outbreak has resolved and the active phase of the investigation has ended. This should help reduce data collection burden, while maintaining the initial focus on collection of data that can inform cessation of the outbreak.

Comprehensive systems may not be in place to support complete and robust data collection, as envisioned here. However, over time, systems can evolve. Healthcare facilities and state and local public health jurisdictions can initially consider using existing data systems to efficiently capture data fields and then modify and build-out these systems to assist in more comprehensive data collection.


Healthcare-associated Infection (HAI) Outbreak Standardized Variables List – Interim Version, February 2023 (Word File)

REDCap Database: CDC HAI Data Collection Data Dictionary, February 2023 (Excel File)

Note: To access the REDCap databse, REDCap users should upload the data dictionary Excel file directly into a REDCap project.

Date Posted: February 2023