November 2008

Grant Results

SUMMARY

From April 2005 to November 2007, the National Network of Public Health Institutes collaborated with public health institutes in Illinois, Kansas and Michigan to compare how those states assessed local emergency preparedness using a common assessment tool, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Public Health Preparedness and Response Capacity Inventory.

Key Findings

  • The CDC's capacity inventory proved to be a relatively good tool for measuring many preparedness functions.
  • Users of data from the capacity inventory reported that it assisted them in a variety of ways, including:
    • Planning
    • Priority setting
    • Resource allocation.
  • Despite differences in the ways the states adapted and used the capacity inventory, analysis of data from the three states using different scoring methods produced surprisingly consistent results.

Funding
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported this project from April 2005 to November 2007 with a grant of $165,957.

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THE PROBLEM

In the spring of 2001, when the first federal funds were issued to state and local public health agencies to improve their preparedness for response to bioterrorism or other public health emergencies, senior officials in the federal Department of Health and Human Services stressed the importance of the public health community developing a good system of accountability.

But as of 2005, there were no national criteria defining "ideal preparedness" and no standardized system to assess and measure preparedness, according to the National Network of Public Health Institutes, an organization of state-based health institutes formed in 2001.

As a result, states were using a variety of assessment tools to assess their preparedness for public health emergencies. One of the most commonly used tools was the Public Health Preparedness and Response Capacity Inventory, developed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2002. The capacity inventory tool comprises 79 questions covering six areas:

  • Preparedness planning and readiness assessment.
  • Surveillance and epidemiology capacity.
  • Laboratory capacity — biologic agents.
  • Health alert network/communications and information technology.
  • Risk communication and health information dissemination.
  • Education and training.

However, states were adapting the inventory and using different methods to develop assessment scores based on it.

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RWJF STRATEGY

During RWJF's national program, Turning Point: Collaborating for a New Century in Public Health (see Grant Results for more information), which ran from 1996 to 2006, the number of public health institutes grew dramatically, due in major part to the influence of the program, according to the two RWJF program officers who managed the program, Susan Hassmiller, Ph.D., R.N., and Pamela G. Russo, M.D., M.P.H.

"Although Turning Point didn't start public health institutes, 12 of these institutes boomed under the program. Public health institutes could work much more quickly than governmental public health to solve the issues of the day," said Hassmiller. The National Network of Public Health Institutes was formed in response to this growth.

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THE PROJECT

This project examined how three states were using the CDC's capacity inventory:

  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Michigan.

The CDC developed separate inventories for state and local health departments. This project studied states' use of the local inventory.

The National Network of Public Health Institutes coordinated the project. Participating agencies were the Illinois Public Health Institute, the Kansas Health Institute and the Michigan Public Health Institute.

Illinois and Kansas used different scoring systems to develop preparedness indices, while Michigan did not create a preparedness index. The project analyzed and compared responses to the inventory in all three states using both the Illinois and Kansas systems. Project staff also interviewed 14 state and local health officials in the three states about the value of the inventory in assessing emergency preparedness.

Communications

In August 2006 the national network and the participating public health institutes issued a report on the project, A Multi-State Comparison of Local Public Health Preparedness Assessment Using a Common, Standardized Tool. Project staff also wrote an unpublished article and made presentations at the 2007 conferences of AcademyHealth and the American Public Health Association. See the Bibliography for details.

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FINDINGS

The project reported the following findings in A Multi-State Comparison of Local Public Health Preparedness Assessment Using a Common, Standardized Tool:

  • The CDC's capacity inventory proved to be a relatively good tool for measuring many preparedness functions.
  • Users of data from the capacity inventory reported that it assisted them in a variety of ways, including:
    • Planning
    • Priority setting
    • Resource allocation.
  • Despite differences in the ways the states adapted and used the capacity inventory, analysis of data from the three states using different scoring methods produced surprisingly consistent results. In the absence of national standards for preparedness, the ability to compare results across jurisdictions provides a means of gauging each jurisdiction's efforts, the researchers noted.

Based on their findings, the researchers concluded that, "The public health system in the nation would be better served by adopting the best available standardized assessment process earlier rather than waiting for a more perfect system later."

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GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION

Project

Assessing Local Emergency Preparedness Using a Common Assessment Tool

Grantee

National Network of Public Health Institutes (New Orleans,  LA)

  • Amount: $ 165,957
    Dates: April 2005 to November 2007
    ID#:  052865

Contact

Sarah M. Gillen, M.P.H.
(504) 301-9824
sgillen@nnphi.org

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)

Articles

Pezzino G, Thompson MZ and Edgar M. "Multi-State Comparison of Local Public Health Preparedness Assessment Using the CDC Capacity Inventory." May 2008. Unpublished.

Reports

Pezzino G, Thompson MZ and Edgar M. A Multi-State Comparison of Local Public Health Preparedness Assessment Using a Common, Standardized Tool. New Orleans: National Network of Public Health Institutes, 2006. Available online.

Presentations and Testimony

Gianfranco Pezzino. "A Multi-State Comparison of Public Health Preparedness Assessment Using a Common Standardized Tool," at the 2007 American Public Health Association Conference, November 2007, Washington. Available online.

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Report prepared by: Paul Jablow
Reviewed by: Robert Narus
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: Pamela G. Russo

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