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Project Details

Listening to Local Health Departments: How Past Emergencies can Inform Future Preparedness Efforts

Project Summary: 

As part of their central mission, Local Health Departments (LHDs) regularly attend to a wide variety of disease and health threats, including those that require routine, urgent, or emergency responses. The proposed research aims to leverage the experiences of LHDs around the nation in an effort to begin describing the frequency of non-routine public health responses in recent history, the characteristics of the precipitating events, and the activities performed by LHDs during the response. Additionally, this research seeks to classify these non-routine events based on common response characteristics, including: (1) the activities performed and the functions filled by the LHD, (2) the role of the LHD in the overall response (i.e. central vs. supporting role), and (3) the composition of other responding agencies and organizations.

Given a wide range of public health threats, it is expected that LHDs will pursue different activities and assume different roles in order to prevent or contain disease, and that these roles will be influenced by both event characteristics and organizational capacity. This project’s primary hypothesis is that certain disease threats elicit LHD responses that are more similar than others, and that these threats can be classified into homogeneous groups based on the functions performed by the LHD and the relative role of the LHD within the overall response. This type of classification system could provide significant improvements for public health planning. Like the traditional all-hazards approach, this research seeks to identify targets for public health preparedness that will provide benefits across multiple threats. Additionally, the proposed typology will demonstrate how public health response activities vary across different threats, allowing LHDs to develop more nuanced plans and training programs based on their expected roles and responsibilities within each threat category.

Contact Person: 
Jennifer Hunter, MPH
Contact Person's Email Address:
UC Berkeley School of Public Health, Center for Infectious Diseases & Emergency Readiness
Principal Investigators: 
Tomás Aragón, MD, DrPH
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Location - States: 
Publication Date: