Local Boards of Health Characteristics Influencing Support for Health Department Accreditation

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Abstract

Background:

Local boards of health (LBoHs) serve as the governance body for 71% of local health departments (LHDs).

Purpose:

To assess the impact of LBoH governance functions and other characteristics on the level of LBoH support of LHD accreditation.

Methods:

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 in 2016.

Results:

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).

Conclusions:

LBoHs are 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 they 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.

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