Local boards of health (LBoHs) serve as the governance body for 71 percent of local health departments (LHDs). The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of LBoH governance functions and other characteristics on the level of LBoH support of LHD accreditation. Data from 394 LHDs that participated in the 2015 Local Boards of Health Survey were used for computing summative scores for LBoHs for domains of taxonomy and performing logistic regression analyses of whether or not LBoH supported the LHD accreditation. The study showed that increased odds of an LBoH directing, encouraging, or supporting LHD accreditation activities were significantly associated with (a) a higher overall combined score measuring performance of governance functions and presence of other LBoH characteristics (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.05; P < .001); (b) a higher combined score for the Governance Functions subscale (AOR = 1.06; P < .01); (c) the “continuous improvement” governance function (AOR = 1.15; P < .001); and (d) characteristics and strengths such as board composition (eg, LBoH size, type of training, elected vs nonelected members), community engagement and input, and the absence of an elected official on the board (AOR = 1.14; P = .02).
[Photo: Dr. Gulzar Shah]
The study led to the conclusion that LBoHs high performing LBoHs are more likely to support LHDs’ accreditation. In addition, LBoHs were evenly split by thirds in their attention to Public Health Accreditation Board accreditation among the following categories: (a) encouraged or supported, (b) discussed but made no recommendations, and (c) did not discuss. This split might indicate that many LBoHs are depending on the professional leadership of the LHD to make the decision or that there is a lack of awareness. The study findings have policy implications for both LBoHs and initiatives aimed at strengthening efforts to promote LHD accreditation.
“Local Boards of Health Characteristics Influencing Support for Health Department Accreditation,” was recently published in the Journal of Public Health Management & Practice.
Dr. Gulzar Shah, department chair for health policy and management at the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health Georgia Southern University was the lead author. Dr. Sergey Sotnikov and Ms. Liza Corso, in the Office for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support (OSTLTS), Ms. Carolyn Leep and Dr. Jiali Ye, with the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), were co-authors.