Maintaining a Competent Public Health Workforce: Lessons Learned from Experiences with Public Health Accreditation Domain 8 Standards and Measures

Valerie A. Yeager, M. Kristina Wharton, Leslie M. Beitsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Context: Public health accreditation is an ongoing national movement to improve the quality of public health departments and the public health system in the United States; however, calls have been made for more evidence regarding best practices in the accreditation process. Objective: The purpose of this work is to provide evidence about best practices in the accreditation process, specifically within the workforce development domain. It is the first in-depth investigation into workforce development using data collected by Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). Design: Using deidentified accreditation application data from PHAB, this study employs a mixed-methods approach to examining practices, lessons learned, challenges, and strategies pertaining to workforce development planning for Domain 8. Setting: United States. Participants: US state (n = 19) and local health departments (n = 115). Main Outcome Measures: Public Health Accreditation Board assessment scores for the workforce measures and the relationship between the health department's approach to meeting a PHAB measure criteria and the PHAB assessment score. Results: Of the 9 different approaches identified as ways of encouraging the development of a sufficient number of qualified public health workers (version 1, measure 8.1.1), only 1 approach (local health department internship programs with schools of public health; B = 0.25, P <.03) was significantly related to higher scores. An opportunity for improvement identified for measure 8.2.1 was that plans missing a clear identification of the gap between current staff competencies and staff needs were associated with a 0.88-point decrease in the 4-point score (P <.001). Conclusions: Findings suggest that there are approaches adopted for meeting PHAB domain 8 measures that will impact the overall conformance assessment and score of a health department pursuing accreditation. There are several opportunities for improvement that health departments might consider when planning for accreditation or assessing their activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-66
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Public Health Management and Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • PHAB
  • accreditation
  • public health workforce

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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