Resources that may matter: The impact of local health department expenditures on health status

Academic Article


  • Objectives. This study examines the association between changes in local health department (LHD) expenditures, aggregated to the state level, and changes in state-level measures of health, from 1993 to 2005. The literature on the impact of LHD resources on health status has been limited by crosssectional designs. With repeated surveys of LHDs, it is now possible to use longitudinal designs to explore the association between LHD inputs and outcomes. Methods. This was a retrospective cohort study. We used a fixed-effects regression model to assess the association between LHD expenditures, aggregated to the state level, and seven separate health measures. We derived LHD expenditure data from the National Association of County and City Health Officials' surveys of LHDs in 1993, 1997, and 2005. We obtained secondary data on seven health measures-smoking and obesity prevalence, infectious disease morbidity, infant mortality, deaths due to cardiovascular disease and cancer, and overall premature death-through the America's Health RankingsĀ® reports, 1990-2008. Usable data were available for 1,470 LHDs, representing 37 states. Results. An increase in LHD expenditures, aggregated to the state level, was associated with a statistically significant decline in state-level infectious disease morbidity (t5 23.28, p50.002) and in years of potential life lost (YPLL) (t5 22.73, p50.008). For every $10 increase in aggregated LHD expenditures per capita, infectious disease morbidity decreased by 7.4%, and YPLL decreased by 1.5%. Conclusion. LHD resources are associated with improvements in preventable causes of morbidity and mortality. Ā© 2012 Association of Schools of Public Health.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Erwin PC; Mays GP; Riley WJ
  • Start Page

  • 89
  • End Page

  • 95
  • Volume

  • 127
  • Issue

  • 1