2016 National Profile of Local Health Departments

2016-national-profileBy Sarah Newman, MPH, NACCHO Senior Research and Evaluation Analyst

NACCHO recently released the 2016 National Profile of Local Health Departments report. The Profile is a comprehensive survey of local health department (LHD) infrastructure and practice that NACCHO administers every three years. This year, 76% of all LHDs across the United States responded to the Profile survey, helping NACCHO to present a complete and accurate overview of LHD funding, workforce programs, and partnerships.

Since NACCHO conducts this survey regularly, Profile data can provide a clear picture of how LHD infrastructure, partnerships, and programs have changed over time. For example, since 2008 an estimated 43,000 LHD employees have been lost from the workforce, representing 22% of the LHD workforce in 2008. Additionally, the percent of LHDs reporting formal partnerships with healthcare, community-based, and government partners decreased between 2008 and 2016.

New Profile data also show that a larger proportion of LHDs provide population-based programs and services and a smaller proportion provide clinical services compared to 2008. In addition, LHD participation in community health assessments, community health improvement plans, and strategic plans within the past five years (a requirement for Public Health Accreditation) has increased over time, from 20% completing all three processes in 2010 to 44% completing all three in 2016.

The Profile is a critical resource for NACCHO, policymakers, LHDs, and researchers. To be a credible and effective national voice for LHDs, NACCHO needs up-to-date information about them. NACCHO staff use Profile data to educate congressional and agency staff about how LHDs improve and protect health in communities and about the challenges LHDs face. Local and state health departments use Profile data to compare their agency or agencies within their states to others nationwide. Universities use Profile data to educate the future public health workforce about LHDs and to conduct research about the relationship between public health infrastructure and community health outcomes. Profile data also helps highlight challenges faced by LHDs and differences between small, medium and large LHDs.

New this year, NACCHO produced a highlights version of the report, presenting what we found to be the most interesting findings from the 2016 Profile. However, there are many more findings to share, all of which are available online at www.nacchoprofilestudy.org. A PDF of the full Profile report, a PDF of this highlights report, image files of all the figures included in both reports, and the dataset for those who may be interested in conducting additional analyses are available at the aforementioned link.

The 2016 Profile study was a success because of the commitment of capable and dedicated local public health department leaders throughout the country and NACCHO gives thanks for their support. Visit www.nacchoprofilestudy.org for more information about the Profile.