Title

Local Health Departments' Engagement in Addressing Health Disparities: The Effect of Health Informatics

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-2019

DOI

10.1097/PHH.0000000000000842

ISSN

1078-4659

Abstract

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Health disparities and health inequities can lead to poor health outcomes. However, health disparities continue to persist in communities across the United States, presenting a crucial public health challenge. Persisting budget cuts and workforce challenges tend to hinder local health departments' (LHDs') ability to assess and address health disparities.

OBJECTIVES:

To examine the extent to which LHDs' use of informatics effects their engagement in strategies and activities addressing health disparities.

METHODS:

Data from the 2016 Profile of LHDs were used in examining the association of informatics with 9 activities addressing health disparities/inequities.

RESULTS:

Fifty-nine percent of LHDs used data and described health disparities in their jurisdiction, and 12% conducted original research to link health disparities to differences in social or environmental conditions. Less than 40% of LHDs prioritized resources for the reduction of health disparities. LHDs that implemented information systems had increased odds of describing the disparities in their jurisdiction (P < .01) and having prioritized resources for the reduction of disparities (P < .01). Per capita expenditures, participation in a national accreditation program process, and a larger LHD population were also positively associated with 7 of 9 activities for addressing health disparities/inequities.

CONCLUSIONS:

As LHDs advance efforts to reduce health disparities and inequities, leadership will find informatics a useful strategy. National initiatives aimed to boost LHDs' engagement in the reduction of disparities might benefit from our findings, positing a positive influence of informatics.

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