DURING 1995-1996, CDC, in collaboration with the National Association of Local Boards of Health (NALBOH), conducted the National Survey of Local Boards of Health.1 The survey was designed to characterize the nation's local boards of health (LBOHs) and learn more about their needs, concerns, and capacities. Data were collected in five areas: (1) demographic characteristics of LBOHs and the areas they represent, (2) telecommunications capability/infrastructure, (3) roles, responsibilities, and authorities, (4) composition and structure, and (5) concerns and needs.
An LBOH was defined as any officially constituted local body that establishes general public health policies for a local jurisdiction or that provides advice about the development of such policies to those responsible for policy development. Surveys were completed by 1391 (44%) of 3186 LBOHs.
The survey found that, although 70% of respondents reported having access to a computer, only 31% used e-mail and only 18% used Internet e-mail. Most (80%) LBOHs reported performing multiple functions. More than half reported performing a combination of advisory, governing, and policy-making functions, and 70% reported that they recommended public health policy; proposed, adopted, and enforced public health regulations; and recommended health department budgets and priorities.
Approximately 70% of respondents reported needing training, information, or technical assistance in establishing community health priorities, identifying funding sources, conducting state and local health reform activities and community health assessments, and working with managed care organizations.
JC Saccenti, NE Baker, MPH, National Association of Local Boards of Health, Bowling Green, Ohio. Div of Public Health Systems, Public Health Practice Program Office, CDC.
CDC's National Profile of Local Boards of Health, September 1997. JAMA. 1998;280(6):505. doi:10.1001/jama.280.6.505-JWR0812-2-1