Voices Across Kansas

Community Health Assessment and Improvement Efforts Among Local Health Departments

2013julyadvancesphnurses

Community health assessment and community health improvement planning implementation is just beginning in Kansas, early adopters mostly in metro areas.

The Issue:

In Kansas, 90 out of 100 decentralized local health departments serve sparsely populated rural counties. Rural public health departments face significant challenges when pursuing national accreditation, particularly related to community health assessment (CHA) and community health improvement planning (CHIP). Assessments, also required of nonprofit hospitals by the Affordable Care Act, involve community members and stakeholders, use multiple data sources, and employ a formal, structured process.

Key Findings

  • Rural regions with small health department staffs and limited training opportunities reported less confidence in their ability to conduct a CHA-CHIP.

  • Rural regions need additional funding and training, as well as external technical assistance to perform a CHA-CHIP.

  • CHA-CHIP activities take time away from required local health department services.

Conclusion:

CHA-CHIP activities would benefit from developing the public workforce and enhancing technical assistance to local departments.

About the Study:

In 2012, using structured telephone interviews, these investigators conducted 15 focus groups, representing 11 of 15 public health regions in Kansas. Participants included local health department administrators, hospital representatives, and community stakeholders, both rural and urban, involved in CHA-CHIP activities.