National Longitudinal Survey of Local Public Health Systems, 1998-2014 (ICPSR 23420)

Published: Feb 8, 2018

Principal Investigator(s):
Glen P. Mays, University of Kentucky; F. Douglas Scutchfield, University of Kentucky

Version V2

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, 2012, and 2014 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.

Mays, Glen P., and Scutchfield, F. Douglas. National Longitudinal Survey of Local Public Health Systems, 1998-2014. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2018-02-08.

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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (053229, 70363, 71147)

Local public health jurisdiction

As explained in the ICPSR Processing Notes in the codebook, ICPSR restricted variables ID1998 (1998 agency ID) , ID2006 (2006 agency ID) in Dataset 1 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.

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

1998 -- 2014

1998 -- 2014

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, 2006, 2012, and 2014). Thus, agencies that responded only in 1998 have only one record, while agencies that responded in multiple years have multiple records.

Additional information about the survey is available on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Systems for Action website.

A randomly assigned agency identification number named ICPSR_ID15 was added to the data, which can be used to link the agency records across the four waves of the survey.

A stratified random sample of the nation's largest local governmental public health agencies was surveyed in 1998, 2006, 2012, and in 2014 to ascertain the availability of 20 core public health activities within their jurisdictions and to identify the types of organizations contributing to each activity. The attributes of local public health delivery systems were measured using a survey instrument based on the Local Public Health System Assessment tool developed through a series of research projects commissioned by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These projects identified services and activities regarded as important for protecting and improving public health at the community level, each of which derived from one of the three core public health functions of assessment, policy development, and assurance as articulated by the Institute of Medicine.

A 100-percent sample of the universe was selected.

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."

survey data

mail questionnaire

self-enumerated questionnaire

A 71 percent response rate (n = 354) was achieved in the 1998 survey. The survey was re-administered to the same stratified sample of agencies in 2006, 2012, and 2014, achieving a response rate of 67% in 2006, 68% in 2012, and 58% in 2014.

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.



2018-02-08 Dataset 2 was added, which includes survey results from 2012 and 2014.

2008-12-01 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.


  • The 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.

  • One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions. Restricted data files are not available for direct download from the website; click on the Restricted Data button to learn more.

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This study is maintained and distributed by the Health and Medical Care Archive (HMCA). HMCA is the official data archive of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.