DIS Certification

Update from the DIS Certification Project. Completion of the Job Task Analysis

Click Here to Read About the Job Task Analysis

Update from the DIS Certification Project
Completion of the Job Task Analysis

July 2016

The DIS Certification Project is a CDC-funded initiative to assess various approaches to DIS certification and its implementation. The components of this initiatives include conducting a job task analysis to articulate the essential tasks, knowledge, skills and abilities of the DIS roles; enumerating the DIS workforce; establishing a national registry for DIS; developing three potential models for DIS certification consideration ; and informing a comprehensive framework for future DIS training.

The Public Health Accreditation Board coordinates this work in partnership with the National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO), the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD), DIS subject matter experts, and certification experts.  For more information, visit: http://www.phaboard.org/dis-certification.

The DIS Certification Project is a multi-phase initiative. As each phase is complete, the DIS Certification Project will provide an update.  Recently, the Job Task Analysis (JTA) phase was completed.  This communique provides a summary of the findings from the JTA.

DIS work in health departments, community health centers, and other similar locations. The DIS role was initially established to work in the field of STD prevention. However, these public health professionals have ground-level investigative skills that have also become key components of tuberculosis outbreak response; HIV exposure notification; other infectious disease control efforts; and emergency response. DIS have expertise in essential skills such as communication, interviewing, counseling, case analysis, and provider and community engagement. As the health care landscape evolves, DIS are needed even more as patient navigators and network builders to ensure patients are linked to care through expanded relationships with health care providers. DIS are a critical part of the public health infrastructure and in building the link to health care.

A Job Task Analysis, or a job analysis study, is a standard research practice used often by certification development organizations to identify the critical practices of a profession. Identifying the core responsibilities and functions of a job is the first step towards establishing certification requirements to ensure that practitioners have the requisite knowledge for competent practice.

One of the key steps in the DIS Certification Project is conducting a Job Task Analysis for the DIS workforce. This critical phase was recently completed, and the findings will be incorporated in the final report that will be issued at the Project’s conclusion.

The job task analysis was conducted in three phases: 1) research; 2) refinement; and 3) validation. The DIS Certification Project’s Job Task Analysis followed this model accordingly:

Phase I: Research

  • Feasibility Study—In September 2013, a feasibility study was conducted to determine the need for the DIS Certification Project.
  • Development of Draft Outline—a draft competency outline detailing domains, tasks, and knowledge statements was developed as a result of the feasibility study.
  • Task Force Meeting—a group of subject matter experts, reflecting a diverse range of professional experiences convened to form a Job Task Analysis Task Force.  This group reviewed the draft outline and provided feedback to guide survey development.

Phase II: Refinement

  • Survey Review and Pilot testing—the Task Force and a group of unaffiliated DIS professionals reviewed the draft survey, and the survey was set up on an electronic platform.
  • Survey Administration—the final DIS Job Analysis Survey was fielded between October 26, 2015 and January 26, 2016. The survey had 494 respondents.

Phase III: Validation

  • Data Analysis—once the survey was closed, researchers removed identifying details from the data and calculated frequency distributions, means, standard deviations, and modes for the task and knowledge importance ratings; task and knowledge frequency ratings; and content coverage ratings.
  • Test Specifications Meeting—the Job Analysis Task Force reconvened February 17-18, 2016 to review survey data and to develop the Test Specifications for DIS certification.

The Job Task Analysis details and describes the job tasks, knowledge, skills, abilities, and work activities of a standard DIS position. Agreement on these domains was the result of robust analysis and validation.  This is not a final job description or requirement. Some of the key domains that will be included are:


  • Planning and Preparation for Case and Field Work
  • Investigation Activities
  • Client Encounters and Interviewing
  • Surveillance Activities
  • Health System Collaboration and Improvement in Quality of Care
  • Clinical Follow up
  • Field Services and Testing
  • Case Analysis
  • Outbreak Response and Emergency Preparedness


  • Ethical and professional conduct
  • Privacy practices and reporting procedures
  • Clinical or laboratory policies and procedures


  • Active listening
  • Critical thinking
  • Conflict management and resolution

Details about specific activities in each domain and other findings from the Job Task Analysis will be available in the final report.  A draft copy can be obtained by contacting PHAB.

The findings from the Job Task Analysis will also be used to develop a standardized template DIS job description that will then inform the models of potential certification provided in the final report to CDC.

The next phase of the Project is Workforce Enumeration, which is a study that determines how many DIS are currently in the workforce. This task is already underway, and is expected to be completed in the next few weeks. At that time, another update on the project will be provided.

Click Here to Read a DIS Certfication Project Update

February 2017

The Disease Intervention Specialist (DIS) Certification Project is in the assessment phase. The assessment activities will determine the best model for DIS certification, and are foundational for any DIS certification program. Click here to download the four-page certification project update.

DIS Certification Project Update

Click Here for Information About Products & Publications

Articles: Strengthening Public Health at Its Core: A Focus on Disease Intervention Specialists – The winter 2015 issue of NACCHO Exchange includes a DIS-focused sidebar authored by CDC Drs. Jonathan H. Mermin and Gail Bolan. Access the brief article here. The complete edition is available in the NACCHO bookstore.


Webinars: On Sept. 14, 2015, the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), in partnership with the National Association of County and City Health Officials, the National Coalition of STD Directors, and CDC’s Division of STD Prevention hosted a webinar to provide an overview of the Disease intervention Specialists Certification Project. This CDC-funded project was developed to support the work of DIS by considering various certification model options as well as the administration and management of a national DIS certification program. At the end of this ongoing project, PHAB will deliver recommendations on establishing a national model of certification for DIS workers as well as recommended changes in the health department accreditation standards and measures aimed at strengthening the organizational capacity of health departments to support the work of the DIS in areas such as STD/STI, HIV, TB, and other communicable diseases; and Emergency Preparedness and Response.
View Webinar Recording

Click Here for Final DIS Certification Project Assessment Phase Documents

Read an Executive Summary: Disease Intervention Specialist Certification Project: Final Report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Read a commissioned paper (and related appendices) on the alignment between the program expectations in which DIS work and the PHAB accreditation standards. This was the second foundational element that was identified as supporting the DIS workforce in the future.

DIS Fact Sheet: Grow Your Career, Serve Your Community

DIS Fact Sheet: Information for General Audiences


Disease Intervention Specialists have long been a critical part of public health. Click here to view a video about their important work, and the importance of certification of the DIS workforce.

This PPT presentation is for Disease Intervention Specialists (DIS) who wish to educate themselves and others about what DIS do, the potential benefits of national DIS certification, and the various components of the recently completed assessment phase of the DIS Certification Project.

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