epidemiology, public health practice, workforce



  1. Boulton, Matthew L. MD, MPH
  2. Lemmings, Jennifer MPH
  3. Beck, Angela J. MPH, CHES


Objectives: To assess the number of epidemiologists and national epidemiology capacity, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists surveyed state health departments in 2001, 2004, and 2006. This article summarizes findings of the 2006 assessment, analyzes trends in epidemiology workforce, and examines statistical associations between the number of epidemiologists and measures of capacity.


Methods: The on-line surveys collected information from 50 states and the District of Columbia about the number of epidemiologists employed, their training and educational background, program capacity, organizational structure, and funding sources. The State Epidemiologists and/or their designees answered the questionnaire.


Results: The number of epidemiologists in state health departments increased approximately 40 percent from 2001 to 2006. All programs except occupational health experienced increase in the number of epidemiologists; the greatest increase occurred in bioterrorism programs. Estimated epidemiology capacity increased in all programs except environmental health and occupational health. The Epidemiology Capacity Assessment survey indicates that state health departments need 30 percent more epidemiologists. A linear correlation existed between the number of epidemiologists and state population.


Conclusions: Federal emergency preparedness funding supported most of the increase in epidemiologists, which could fall as funding decreases. To function at full capacity, states need approximately one epidemiologist per 100 000 population for all program areas. Current estimates of workforce capacity need to be refined.