Strengthening the Capacity of Local Health Agencies Through Community-Based Assessment and Planning


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Abstract

SYNOPSISObjectives.We evaluated the effectiveness of the Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence in Environmental Health (PACE EH) in building competency in essential environmental health services and renewing efforts to engage the community in problem solving. Competency and community engagement have been identified by environmental health practitioners as important to meet new threats to public health.Methods.We conducted a national survey and 24 case studies of public health agencies. We invited 917 organizations to participate in the national survey because they had requested a copy of the protocol.Results.We received 656 total responses: 354 had not considered implementation, 302 had considered implementation, and 66 had implemented PACE EH. For the 24 case studies, we interviewed 206 individuals in communities implementing PACE EH. We found that PACE EH has had a positive effect on building community and professional networks, enhancing leadership, developing workforce competence, and expanding definitions of environmental health practice.Conclusions.With appropriate investments, PACE EH can be an effective tool to meet the environmental health challenges identified by local environmental health practitioners and state, tribal, and federal agencies.

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