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Local Health Department and Academic Institution Linkages for Community Health Assessment and Improvement Processes: A National Overview and Local Case Study

Chudgar, Reena B. MPH; Shirey, Lauren A. MPH; Sznycer-Taub, Miriam MPH; Read, Robin MPH; Pearson, Rebecca L. PhD, MPH; Erwin, Paul Campbell MD, DrPH

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: May/June 2014 - Volume 20 - Issue 3 - p 349–355
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e31829dc26b
Original Articles

Community health improvement processes that yield community health assessments (CHAs) and community health improvement plans (CHIPs) provide data and a process to determine key community priorities and take action and are ideally collaborative endeavors. Nationally, increased focus on CHAs and CHIPs highlights the role that Academic Health Departments or other local health department (LHD)-academic linkages can play in completing CHAs and CHIPs. Drawn from the experiences of 5 LHD-academic partnerships that participated in a national demonstration and a detailed account of the experience of one, this article presents how such linkages can support CHA and CHIP work, ways to anticipate and overcome challenges, and the tangible benefits that may be realized for both the LHD and the academic partner. Community health improvement processes are ripe opportunities for LHD-academic linkages and can be fruitful and mutually beneficial partnerships to be used in completing CHAs and CHIPs to measurably improve the public's health.

This article provides a national overview and local case study of local health department and academic institution linkages for community health assessment and improvement processes. Early planning and understanding and accommodating timing constraints of both partners can be a key factor in whether a partnership is successful and mutual benefits are realized.

National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), Washington, District of Columbia (Mss Chudgar, Shirey, and Sznycer-Taub); Kittitas County Public Health Department, Ellensburg, Washington (Ms Read); Health Education Program, Physical Education, School and Public Health, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, Washington (Dr Pearson); and Department of Public Health, University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Dr Erwin).

Correspondence: Reena B. Chudgar, MPH, National Association of County and City Health Officials, 1100 17th St, NW, 7th Floor, Washington, DC 20036 (

As part of the demonstration project, NACCHO compensated Paul Erwin as a project consultant and funded Kittitas County Public Health Department to support the work that contributed to the findings of this article. The Kittitas County Public Health Department supported some of the Central Washington University's related work. NACCHO received funding and support for this project from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The authors thank the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the project's Core Group of Advisors, Assessment and Planning Workgroup members, and the 12 NACCHO community health assessment/community health improvement plan demonstration sites for their work and contributions.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2014 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.