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An Examination of Environmental Public Health Organizational and Workforce Configurations in the Northeast/MidAtlantic United States: How Do We Determine if These Configurations Impact Performance?

Resnick, Beth A. MPH; Zablotsky, Joanna PhD, MPH; Janus, Erik R. MS; Maggy, Bradley MPA; Burke, Thomas A. PhD, MPH

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice:
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e3181a3919f
Article
Abstract

Objective: Environmental public health (EPH) practice is a vital component of the nation's public health system. Yet, a number of national reports have found that the disjointed structure of the EPH system hinders our ability to protect the public's health. This article examines the EPH organizational and workforce configurations in the US Northeast/Mid-Atlantic region and raises questions as to how to measure whether these varied configurations impact EPH performance.

Methods: A review of national reports and state-specific documents and 39 EPH practitioner interviews.

Results: Study findings revealed wide ranging organizational configurations and workforce challenges in the region. Although this study depicts just one region of the country, it provides insight into the complexity and variety of EPH structures and workforce throughout the nation. This diversity presents challenges in our ability to understand, measure, and evaluate EPH performance.

Conclusions: This research has implications for the future of the national EPH system. As we move toward a more “outcomes focused” government, it is essential to the future of EPH to develop better ways to accurately assess, measure, and evaluate EPH performance. These study findings, along with a discussion on how to further advance EPH performance measures, helps facilitate this necessary shift to a more measurable, outcome-based EPH system.

In Brief

This article examines the EPH organizational and workforce configurations in the US Northeast/Mid-Atlantic region and raises questions as to how to measure whether these varied configurations impact EPH performance.

Author Information

Beth A. Resnick, MPH, is Assistant Scientist, Department of Health Policy & Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Associate Director, Johns Hopkins Center for Excellence in Environmental Health Practice, Baltimore, Maryland.

Joanna Zablotsky, PhD, MPH, is Data Analyst, Office of Data Integration and Food Protection (ODIFP), US Department of Agriculture.

Erik R. Janus, MS, is Adjunct Professor, University of Maryland University College, Adelphi, Maryland.

Bradley Maggy, MPA, is Director, Department of Community Health, Fresno County, California, Department of Public Health.

Thomas A. Burke, PhD, MPH, is Associate Dean, Public Health Practice, and Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.

Corresponding Author: Beth A. Resnick, MPH, Department of Health Policy & Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 624N. Broadway, Rm 457, Baltimore, MD 21205 (bresnick@jhsph.edu).

Funding for this work was received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.