The Profile Study at Work

By Carolyn Leep, Senior Director of Research and Evaluation, NACCHO

ProfileLogoFinal 1Ever wonder what NACCHO does with data from that Profile survey that took you so long to complete?

From January through March, approximately 2,000 local health departments (LHDs) completed the National Profile of Local Health Departments (Profile) survey. Profile is a comprehensive (read “long”) survey of LHD infrastructure and practice that NACCHO administers every two to three years. We are truly grateful for the time so many LHD leaders and staff spent gathering the requested information and completing the survey.

Have you ever wondered what NACCHO does with the data we collect in the Profile survey? We hope that everyone knows that having up-to-date data about LHDs is a key to making NACCHO a trusted and credible voice for LHDs at the national level. NACCHO should know more about LHDs than anyone else. Many people know that NACCHO summarizes data from each Profile in a report that serves as an almanac of information about LHDs. We send a printed copy to every LHD that completed their Profile; the reports are also available on the Profile webpage. Some people even know that NACCHO puts Profile data on LHD finances, workforce, and activities into Profile-IQ—a user-friendly Web-based system that lets users make customized Profile tables and figures. For example, you can make tables with statistics from just the LHDs in your state or from only LHDs that serve jurisdictions of similar size to yours. Check it out!

Many people may not know that data from the Profile survey are a critical resource for researchers who study public health systems and services. Under a data use policy approved by NACCHO’s Executive Committee, NACCHO has provided data on LHDs for hundreds of research studies. The recent Keeneland Conference was a great place to see some of the research that uses NACCHO’s Profile data. For example, Kay Lovelace (University of North Carolina- Greensville) and her colleagues used NACCHO’s Profile data to identify characteristics of LHDs that engage in evidence-based decision making. Tracy Hilliard (University of Washington) and her colleagues used Profile data to examine declines in LHD workforce relative to distribution of racial and ethnic minority populations. Gulzar Shah (Georgia Southern University) and his colleagues used Profile data to examine whether completion of PHAB accreditation prerequisites (community health assessment, community health improvement plan, and agency-wide strategic plan) are associated with LHD intent to apply for accreditation. Slides from these and other Keeneland Conference presentations are available on the conference website.

NACCHO’s Profile Team is currently hard at work in the “data bunker” cleaning and analyzing all of the 2013 Profile data. The report of the findings will be available later this year. Have you used data or information from NACCHO’s Profile study? Tell us about it below in the comments section.

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