Document Type


Publication Date



Objective: To improve session-participants’ understanding of level of local health departments’ (LHDs) involvement in various practice-based research (PBR) activities. Practice-based public health research is gaining increased recognition for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of public health practice.

Data: Data are drawn from NACCHO’s 2010 National Profile of LHDs Study. Questions about LHDs’ participation in PBR were administered to a stratified random sample of 625 LHDs. Findings: Over the 12 months prior to the study 38 percent of LHDs did not participate in any PBR activity and another five percent of respondents did not know if their health department had. Overall, more LHDs participated in: collecting, exchanging, or reporting data for a study (37%), disseminating research findings to key stakeholders (33%), applying research findings to practices within their own organization (26%), and analyzing and interpreting study data and findings (26%) than in other practice-based research activities. Some LHDs (22%) participated in the identification of research topics/questions relevant to public health practice and helping other organizations apply evidence to practice (16%). Few LHDs worked on developing or refining research plans and/or protocols for public health studies (12%) and/or recruiting study sites and/or study participants (12%). Twenty-nine percent of all LHDs participated in at least one research study (average=2.8 studies per LHD).

Multivariate analysis was used with logistic regression to predict the tendency to perform PBR activities. Larger LHDs and those with local governance were more likely to perform most of the PBR activities, including participation in research studies. Having an MD as a top executive was positively associated with these activities. Having a local board of health and/or a full-time (as opposed to part-time) top executive was positively associated with some research activities including participation in research studies. The implications of these findings for practice-based research in public health will be discussed.


Reproduced with permission of the National Coordinating Center for PHSSR and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Princeton, N.J. Presentation obtained from the Keeneland Conference site.


2012 Keeneland Conference on Public Health Systems and Services Research