National Profile of Local Health Departments, 2008

Conducted by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), the purpose of this survey of local health departments (LHDs) was to advance and support the development of a database for LHDs to describe and understand their structure, function, and capacities.

Each LHD in the United States received a questionnaire with a set of core questions. In addition, some of the LHDs received one of three randomly assigned modules of supplemental questions. The core questions covered jurisdictional information, governance, funding, workforce (staffing levels, occupations employed, top executive education and licensure, and percentages of staff by gender, race, and Hispanic origin), LHD activities, health disparities, and community health assessment and planning. The surveyed LHD activities include immunization, screening for diseases and conditions, treatment for communicable diseases, maternal and child health, epidemiology and surveillance activities, and regulation, inspection and/or licensing activities.

Topics covered by Module 1 include awareness and use of NACCHO’s operational definition of a functional local health department, familiarity with a voluntary national accreditation program (VNAP) for state and local health departments, LHD promotional activities, use of the logo and tagline that NACCHO developed for local governmental public health, and characteristics of LHD Web sites. Module 2 examined human resources, awareness and use of core competencies related to public health, interaction with academic institutions, internal agency strategic planning, sharing of resources with other LHDs, and information technology. Finally, Module 3 asked about community health assessment and health improvement planning, essential services and activities, land use planning, policy-making and advocacy, partnership and collaboration with other organizations, and access to health care services.