Analysis of Data Methods and Taxonomies Used to Assess the Public Health Workforce in the U.S.

  • Lamberth, Cynthia (PI)
  • Mays, Glen (CoI)

Grants and Contracts Details


Analysis of Data Methods and Taxonomies Used to Assess the Public Health Workforce in the U.S. REMIS #SP-13-009 Solicitation # 13-233-SOL-00478 Purpose: This exploratory study seeks to identify how state and local health departments define, track, and assess the public health workforce to assess specific trends and needs for their workforce. NORC at The University of Chicago is collaborating with the University of Kentucky to complete the proposed project. Research Questions: • To what extent do state of local health departments currently collect data on their public health workforce? What types of data do they collect? • What tools do state health departments currently use in workforce surveillance and data collection activities? o What are strengths and limitations of these tools/resources and data collection methods? o What, if any, gaps exist with the current tools/resources and data collection methods? o How can current workforce surveillance and data collection activities be improved? • Do taxonomy classification schema for public health occupations effectively characterize the public health workforce in states and local health departments? • How do states health departments use public health workforce data to understand their workforce needs? • What is the need for the development of additional tools to help state and local health departments track their workforce to understand potential workforce gaps and opportunities for improving efficiency? • Is there a potential for a more organized and systematic approach to workforce surveillance? Background: One of the Healthy People 2020 goals is “to ensure that Federal, State, Tribal, and Local health agencies have the necessary infrastructure to effectively provide essential public health services.” The public health workforce in the United States is an integral component of the public health system, necessary for effectively providing the essential services of public health and responsible for implementing public health programs and services nationally and in states, localities, and territories. However, the lack of a common taxonomy and valid and reliable data – necessary for workforce enumeration – makes it difficult to full assess workforce trends in needs. According to a 2009 report of the National Information Center on Health Services Research and health Care Technology, there is a lack of clear understanding of the supply and composition of the U.S. public health workforce or its functions, due in part by the lack of an operationalized definition of the public health workforce as well as standardized data collection systems. The scarcity of information has significant implications for public health workforce planning and policy development at the federal, state, and local levels. Staff: The proposed project team includes the following staff from NORC and the University of Kentucky: • Michael Meit, MPH, MA (Co-PI) • Kendra May, MPH • Naomi Hernandez, BS • Glen Mays, MPH, PhD (Co-PI) • Cynthia Lamberth, MPH, CPH • Doctoral Public Health Student (TBD) Methods: The NORC Team (NORC and UK) will conduct an environmental scan, hold discussions with state health department and national key stakeholder organizations, and write a final report of major findings. NORC at the University of Chicago will be responsible for organizing Post-Award Meetings and Work Plans to ensure efficient organization and communication from the start of the project. To ensure continued communication between all parties of the projects, NORC at the University of Chicago will also produce monthly progress reports and notes from bi-weekly conference calls. The University of Kentucky (UK) Center of Excellence in Public Health Workforce Research and Policy will lead the environmental scan which aims to describe the current state of public health workforce research and trends in the public health workforce within the past ten years. To complement this literature search, UK staff will also conduct six key informant discussions with stakeholders from relevant Health and Human Services agencies. Following the environmental scan, NORC will conduct eight discussions with key national stakeholder organizations, and a second set of discussions with six state health departments in order to investigate if a set of public health worker titles is adequate and comprehensive enough to characterize the public health workforce in each state. Results of all aspects of this project will be presented in a final report compiled by the NORC Team. Timeline: The proposed project is an 18-month contract, with an anticipated start date of mid-September, 2013.
Effective start/end date10/30/133/27/15


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.