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  1. Singh, Simone R. PhD
  2. Carlton, Erik L. DrPH


Context: Community health assessments (CHAs) are a core function of local health departments (LHDs). Recently, completing a CHA has become a prerequisite for LHDs seeking accreditation by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). Similarly, under the Affordable Care Act, nonprofit hospitals are required to conduct periodic community health needs assessments (CHNAs). Opportunities thus exist for LHDs and hospitals to jointly complete CHAs/CHNAs.


Objective: This study examined existing LHD-hospital collaborations around CHAs/CHNAs, focusing specifically on the relationship between LHDs' level of engagement with PHAB accreditation activities and their collaboration with hospitals around CHAs/CHNAs.


Design: Data came from the 2013 NACCHO (National Association of County & City Health Officials) Profile Study and the Area Health Resource File. Complete data were available for 1332 LHDs that participated in the 2013 NACCHO Profile Study. Logistic regression explored the relationship between LHDs' completion of accreditation prerequisites, in particular completion of a CHA, community health improvement plan, and strategic plan, and their involvement in collaborations with tax-exempt hospitals around CHAs/CHNAs.


Results: LHDs that collaborated with tax-exempt hospitals on CHAs/CHNAs were larger, more likely to be locally governed, and more likely to have a local board of health. Bivariate analysis showed that CHA/CHNA-related collaboration with hospitals was significantly correlated (P < .01) with an LHD's completion of accreditation prerequisites. In multivariate regression analysis, completion of all 3 PHAB accreditation prerequisites significantly increased the odds of LHDs collaborating with hospitals when controlling for other LHD and community-level characteristics.


Conclusion: PHAB accreditation prerequisites together with IRS requirements for hospitals foster potential for collaboration around CHAs/CHNAs. Joint completion of CHAs/CHNAs not only allows partners to complete the assessment more efficiently but has also been shown to produce higher-quality assessments, thus building a strong foundation for continued collaboration to improve community health.