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New Data, Same Story? Revisiting Studies on the Relationship of Local Public Health Systems Characteristics to Public Health Performance

Bhandari, Michelyn W. DrPH; Scutchfield, F. Douglas MD; Charnigo, Richard PhD; Riddell, Martha C. DrPH; Mays, Glen P. PhD

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice: March/April 2010 - Volume 16 - Issue 2 - p 110–117
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e3181c6b525
Article

This study examined the relationship between community and system characteristics of 353 local public health agencies and local public health system performance by revisiting previous research by Mays et al and Scutchfield et al. More recent and coterminous data were used. Local public health agency characteristics were obtained from the National Association of City and County Health Officials' 2005 National Profile of Local Public Health Departments and performance data were obtained from version 1 of the National Public Health Performance Standards Program local performance assessment instrument. Descriptive analyses and multivariate analyses similar to the two previous studies were employed. Population size, presence of a local board of health and whether the board makes policy, educational background of the local public health agency's top executive, and jurisdiction type were found to be important predictors of local public health performance. These findings support some of the earlier findings but do not support all the findings of the earlier studies. Variances are discussed. This study provides researchers and practitioners with an evidence base from which to make suggestions regarding characteristics, many changeable, which may influence system performance.

This study examines the relationship between community and system characteristics of local public health agencies and local public health system performance by revising previous research and provides researchers and practitioners with an evidence base from which to make suggestion regarding characteristics that may influence system performance.

Michelyn W. Bhandari, DrPH, is Associate Professor, Department of Health Promotion and Administration, College of Health Sciences, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, Kentucky.

F. Douglas Scutchfield, MD, is Peter P. Bosomworth Professor of Health Services Research and Policy, Center for Public Health Systems & Services Research, College of Public Health, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky.

Richard Charnigo, PhD, is Associate Professor, Department of Biostatistics, College of Public Health, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky.

Martha C. Riddell, DrPH, is Assistant Professor, Department of Health Services Management, College of Public Health, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky.

Glen P. Mays, PhD, is Professor and Chair, Department of Health Policy and Management, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Corresponding Author: Michelyn W. Bhandari, DrPH, Department of Health Promotion and Administration, College of Health Sciences, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY 40475 (michelyn.bhandari@eku.edu).

This research was supported by funds from the National Network of Public Health Institutes in collaboration with the National Public Health Performance Standards Program and by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.