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The Importance of Governmental and Nongovernmental Investments in Public Health and Social Services for Improving Community Health Outcomes

McCullough, J. Mac, PhD, MPH; Singh, Simone R., PhD; Leider, Jonathon P., PhD

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: July/August 2019 - Volume 25 - Issue 4 - p 348–356
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000856
Research Reports: Research Full Report
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Objective: To explore whether health outcomes are influenced by both governmental social services spending and hospital provision of community health services.

Design: We combined hospital provision of community health services data from the American Hospital Association with local governmental spending data from the US Census Bureau. Longitudinal models regressed community health outcomes for 2012-2016 on local government spending on health, social services, and education from 5 years previously, controlling for sociodemographic and hospital marketplace characteristics, spatial autocorrelation, and state-level random effects. For counties with hospitals, models also included county-level data on hospitals' provision of community health services.

Setting: All analyses were performed at the county level for US counties between 2012 and 2016.

Participants: Complete spending, hospital, and health outcomes data were available for a total of 2379 counties.

Main Outcome Measures: We examined relationships between governmental spending, hospital service provision, and 5 population health outcome measures: years of potential life lost prior to age 75 years per 100 000 population, percentage of population in fair or poor health, percentage of adults who are physically inactive, deaths due to injury per 100 000 population, and percentage of births that are of low birth weight.

Results: Governmental investments in health, social services, and education positively impacted key health outcomes but mainly in counties with 1 or more hospitals present. Hospitals' provision of community health services also had a significant positive impact on health outcomes.

Conclusions: Hospital provision of community health services and increases in local governmental health and social services spending were both associated with improved health. Collaboration between local governments and hospitals may help ensure that public and private community health resources synergistically contribute to the public's health. Local policy makers should consider service provision by the private sector to leverage the public investments in health and social services.

School for the Science of Health Care Delivery, Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona (Dr McCullough); Department of Health Policy & Management, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, Michigan (Dr Singh); and Department of Health Policy & Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland (Dr Leider).

Correspondence: J. Mac McCullough, PhD, MPH, School for the Science of Health Care Delivery, Arizona State University, 550 N 3rd St, Phoenix, AZ 85004 (mccullough@asu.edu).

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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