A Comparative Study of 11 Local Health Department Organizational Networks

Organizational network analysis (ONA) suggests that within local health departments (LHDs) one core group makes most of the decisions; the strongest communication ties likely prevail in clusters of de-centralized networks.

This comparative study identified common organizational characteristics in a range of LHDs. The authors used ONA to model the networks within 11 LHDs of varying sizes and structures.

ONA represents organizations as groups of networks; employees, tasks, and knowledge are points, or nodes within each network; the networks reveal patterns of interactions among the nodes. This study modeled the networks within LHDs using four characteristics: density, an indicator of communication flow; centralization, a measure of hierarchical versus egalitarian decision-making; complexity, indicating organizational cohesion; and, a clustering coefficent that measured communication flow between small groups.

Key Findings:

  • The 11 LHDs assigned similar tasks to their employees, who possessed a fairly standard knowledge base.
  • LHDs with higher network density and complexity were more likely to provide several essential public health services.

This study used ONA to model patterns of interaction within 11 LHDs. Data for the study came from the 2005 National Profile of Local Health Departments. Identifying common organizational features could lead to standardized performance measures for LHDs.

April Issue of Health Affairs Focuses on Patient Safety and Health Care Quality

  1. 1. The Ongoing Quality Improvement Journey
  2. 2. A Road Map for Improving the Performance of Performance Measures
  3. 3. The Trade-Off Among Quality, Quantity, and Cost
  4. 4. 'Global Trigger Tool' Shows that Adverse Events in Hospitals May be Ten Times Greater Than Previously Measured
  5. 5. Preventing Bloodstream Infections
  6. 6. Measuring the Performance of Individual Physicians by Collecting Data from Multiple Health Plans
  7. 7. Measuring Health Care Performance Now, Not Tomorrow
  8. 8. Despite Improved Quality of Care in the Veterans Affairs Health System, Racial Disparity Persists for Important Clinical Outcomes
  9. 9. The Importance of Transitional Care in Achieving Health Reform
  10. 10. An Early Status Report on the Beacon Communities' Plans for Transformation Via Health Information Technology
  11. 11. A Comparative Study of 11 Local Health Department Organizational Networks
  12. 12. Public Health Performance
  13. 13. A Self-Assessment Process for Accreditation Preparedness
  14. 14. Public Health Delivery Systems
  15. 15. A Shot in the Rear, Not a Shot in the Dark
  16. 16. What Predicts Local Public Health Agency Performance Improvement?
  17. 17. Growth of a Scientific Community of Practice
  18. 18. Evolution of Coauthorship in Public Health Services and Systems Research
  19. 19. Resources that May Matter
  20. 20. Evidence Links Increases in Public Health Spending to Declines in Preventable Deaths
  21. 21. Public Health Financial Management Competencies
  22. 22. Decision Science
  23. 23. Public Health Financial Management Needs
  24. 24. Data-Driven Management Strategies in Public Health Collaboratives
  25. 25. Using Geographic Information Systems to Match Local Health Needs with Public Health Services and Programs
  26. 26. Public Health Systems and Services Research
  27. 27. Mapping the Multidisciplinary Field of Public Health Services and Systems Research