A State-Level Analysis of Maternal and Child Health Partnerships Among Indiana Local Health Departments

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Frontiers in Public Health Services and Systems Research






Background: As one of many organizations within a system of networks, numerous U.S. local health departments (LHDs) use partnerships as a structural intervention to address physical, mental, social concerns of women and infants.

Purpose: This state level study examines current levels of maternal and child partnerships among Indiana LHDs and sectors in the public health system. Geography and organizational readiness (infant mortality listed as a goal in the strategic plan) were used as proxy measures to examine how likely LHDs work with these sectors.

Methods: An eighteen-item online survey was administered to 93 LHDs collected between March and June 2014. Descriptive and Pearson Chi-Square analyses were conducted using SPSS 23.0.

Results: LHDs reported having more formal (coordinating, cooperating, collaborating) partnerships with hospitals, the state health department, and physician practices/medical groups. LHDs less frequently reported partnerships with transportation, midwives, and parks and recreation. Furthermore, LHDs in non-metropolitan LHDs were more likely to have both informal and formal partnerships with non-public health sectors than LHDs in metropolitan jurisdictions. LHDs that did not have infant mortality as a goal in their strategic plan were more likely to have informal partnerships with health care, health insurance, and quasi-governmental organizations.

Implications: This study presents opportunities to further explore the influence of contextual and functional characteristics in existing LHD partnerships that focus on women and infants.