Assessing Quality Improvement in Local Health Departments

From 2009 to 2011, local health departments in 16 states significantly strengthened their quality improvement (QI) systems.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded the Multi-State Learning Collaborative (MLC) to lay the groundwork for quality assessment and improvement systems in local health departments (LHDs). Over 1,000 LHDs, 41 percent of all departments in the U.S., took part. The National Network of Public Health Institutes managed the collaborative; over three years, the MLC convened meetings, forums, and national webinars and conference calls.

MLC personnel used the QI Maturity Tool to examine the presence and shape of QI in the LHDs that participated. The QI Maturity Tool measured uptake of QI in four categories. This article reports the methods and analyses, concluding with implications for public health research.

Key Findings:

  • After three years, many more LHDs had implemented a formal QI process.
  • LHDs gained QI skills and methods and increased QI investments.
  • “Mini-collaboratives” were important for building skills.

The MLC evaluation employed a longitudinal cohort design. This article presents descriptive statistics derived from bivariate analyses.