Community Health Assessment and Improvement Plans for Public Health Accreditation

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and partners helped 12 local health departments around the country prepare for accreditation by completing community health assessments and health improvement plans.

Dates of Program: January 2011 through May 2013

Description: The 12 local health departments partnered with other community institutions, such as hospitals and universities, collecting information on residents’ health status, health risks, and health behaviors, analyzing local health-related strengths and challenges, and on that basis, developing an improvement plan to address priorities.

NACCHO provided technical assistance to the 12 health departments and worked with a number of partners and subject matter experts to engage other constituencies and provide technical assistance. Three partner organizations also received RWJF funding to contribute to this effort: the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI), the Community Indicators Consortium, and the Association for Community Health Improvement. In 2014, RWJF funded an assessment of the progress the 12 sites had made in implementing their community health improvement plans.

The program was “critical” in pushing local health departments and hospitals to collaborate on “driving communities to wellness.”— Stephen Martin, PhD, MPH, Association for Community Health Improvement

Key Results

  • NACCHO launched an online Resource Center, which includes the assessments and improvement plans developed by the 12 departments, reports on their work and lessons learned, case studies from other health departments, and examples of high-quality assessments and plans.

  • NACCHO developed webinars and, along with the 12 local health departments, posted other resources about completing health assessments and improvement plans to the Resource Center.

  • NACCHO developed Recommendations on Characteristics for High-Quality Community Health Assessments and Community Health Improvement Plans—a checklist to help health departments around the country develop community health assessments and community health improvement plans consistent with accreditation requirements. It can be found on the Resource Center home page.

  • Each of the 12 local health departments produced a community health assessment and a health improvement plan that poised them to meet accreditation requirements.

  • The assessment found that in 2014, nine of the 12 health departments had implemented their community health improvement plans. These plans had similar priorities, emphasizing access to care, obesity, wellness, and mental health/substance abuse.