National Longitudinal Survey of Local Public Health Systems, 1998-2006 (ICPSR 23420)

Principal Investigator(s): Mays, Glen, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; Scutchfield, F. Douglas, University of Kentucky


Obtaining a better understanding of the organizational and operational attributes of public health delivery systems is a critical step in elucidating pathways for improving public health services. This survey of local governmental public health agencies was conducted to that end, as part of a larger study designed to classify the structural characteristics of local public health delivery systems and to examine variation and change in these characteristics over time. In 1998 and again in 2006, local governmental public health agencies serving populations of 100,000 residents or more were surveyed about 20 core public health activities devoted to public health assessment, policy development, and assurance. For each activity, the survey instrument asked agency directors to report whether the activity was performed at all in the agency's jurisdiction and if so, which types of organizations were involved in performing the activity. Response options for the second item consisted of a pre-defined list of organization types, including hospitals, physician practices, health insurers, community health centers, educational institutions, community-based and faith-based organizations, state and local government agencies, and private businesses/employers. The instrument also asked what proportion of the total community effort for each activity was contributed by the local public health agency and asked how effectively the activity was performed.

Access Notes

  • One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions ; consult the restrictions note to learn more. You can apply online for access to the restricted-use data. A login is required to apply.

    As explained in the ICPSR Processing Note in the codebook, ICPSR restricted variables ID1998 (1998 agency ID) , ID2006 (2006 agency ID), and CDIVIS (census division) from general dissemination for reasons of confidentiality. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete an Agreement for the Use of Confidential Data, specify the reasons for the request, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research. Apply for access to these data through the ICPSR restricted data contract portal, which can be accessed via the study home page.

    Any public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.


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Study Description


Mays, Glen, and F. Douglas Scutchfield. National Longitudinal Survey of Local Public Health Systems, 1998-2006. ICPSR23420-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2008-12-01.

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This study was funded by:

  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (053229)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    community health, health departments, health education, health planning, health policy, public health

Smallest Geographic Unit:    United States

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 1998
  • 2006

Date of Collection:   

  • 1998
  • 2006

Universe:    The universe comprised all 497 local public health delivery systems in the United States that served jurisdictions of at least 100,000 residents during 1996-1997 as identified in the National Association of County and City Health Officials' (NACCHO) 1997 National Profile of Local Health Departments. Geographically defined, each system is the service area of one of the nation's local governmental public health agencies, which were identified based on NACCHO's definition of a local governmental public health agency: "an administrative or service unit of local or state government that is concerned with health and carries out some responsibility for the health of a jurisdiction smaller than the state."

Data Type(s):    survey data

Data Collection Notes:

The data are organized in panel format with each local health department having one record for each year of the survey in which it responded (1998 and 2006). Thus, agencies that responded only in 1998 have only one record, while agencies that responded in both years have two records.

Variables ID1998 (1998 agency ID) or ID2006 (2006 agency ID) in the restricted-use version of the data or variable ICPSR_ID (random agency ID generated by ICPSR) in both the restricted- and public-use versions of the data can be used to link the agency records across years.

ICPSR rearranged the agency records in the public-use file in random order.


Sample:    A 100-percent sample of the universe was selected.

Mode of Data Collection:    mail questionnaire, self-enumerated questionnaire

Response Rates:    A 71 percent response rate (n = 354) was achieved in the 1998 survey. When responding agencies were re-surveyed in 2006, a 67 percent response rate was obtained (n = 236) or 47 percent of the original 1998 sample.

Presence of Common Scales:    The survey instrument was based on the Local Public Health System Assessment tool developed through a series of research projects commissioned by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Extent of Processing:   ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


Original ICPSR Release:   2008-12-01

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