Drivers and Barriers for Adopting Accreditation at Local Health Departments for Their Performance Improvement Effort

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A national system of voluntary public health accreditation for state, local, and tribal health departments (local health departments [LHDs]) is part of a movement that aims to improve public health performance with ultimate impact on population health outcomes. Indiana is a good setting for the study of LHD accreditation adoption because several LHDs reported de-adopting accreditation in a recent statewide survey and because 71% of Indiana counties serve populations of 50 000 or less.


A systematic method of analyzing qualitative data based on the Performance Improvement Model framework to expand our understanding of de-adoption of public health accreditation.


In 2015, we conducted a key informant interview study of the 3 LHDs that decided to delay their engagement in the accreditation based on findings from an Indiana survey on LHD accreditation adoption. The study is an exploration of LHD accreditation de-adoption and of the contributions made to its understanding by the Performance Improvement Model.


The study found that top management team members are those who champion accreditation adoption, and that organizational structure and culture facilitate the staff's embracing of the change. The Performance Improvement Model was found to enhance the elucidation of the inner domain elements of Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research in the context of de-adoption of public health accreditation.


Governing entities' policies and priorities appear to mediate whether the LHDs are able to continue accreditation pursuit. Lacking any of these driving forces appears to be associated with decisions to de-adoption of accreditation. Further work is necessary to discern specific elements mediating decisions to pursue accreditation. This study demonstrates the added knowledge of Performance Improvement Model (PIM) to the CFIR framework. A large scale study is called to further clarify and discern supports of specific to the needs of individual LHDs for their performance improvement effort.

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