Market characteristics associated with community health assessments by local health departments

K. Ellis Hilts, J. Xia, V. A. Yeager, A. O. Ferdinand, N. Menachemi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives: Community health assessments (CHAs) have been promoted as a strategy for population health. This study uses the resource dependence theory (RDT) to examine how external market characteristics are associated with CHAs conducted by local health departments (LHDs) and subsequent partnering with hospitals for CHAs in the United States. Study design: The RDT was used to guide the conceptualization of the market in the context of local public health. RDT emphasizes that organizations are not in control of all the resources they need and, to some extent, must rely on the external environment to provide those necessary resources. Binary measures were used to examine whether LHDs conducted CHAs and whether they did so in partnership with a local hospital. Independent variables were identified to measure the RDT constructs of munificence (resource availability in the environment), complexity (level of heterogeneity), and dynamism (level of environmental turbulence). Methods: Bivariate (Chi-squared and t-tests) and multivariate (logistic regression) cross-sectional analyses were conducted using secondary data from the National Association of County and City Health Officials 2013 Profile Survey, the 2013 County Health Rankings data set, and the Health Resources and Services Administration's Area Health Resource File. Results: Two of three variables measuring munificence were positively associated with having conducted a CHA; one variable was also related to doing so in conjunction with a local hospital. One measure of market complexity was negatively associated with having conducted a CHA. No measure of dynamism was related to the dependent variables. Conclusions: Study results provide partial support for the use of RDT in understanding the relationship between market factors and LHDs’ activities around CHAs. Local hospitals as partners and other market factors should be considered by LHDs when conducting CHAs. Findings from this work will be of interest to public health practitioners, policy-makers, and researchers interested in public health and population health improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-125
Number of pages8
JournalPublic Health
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • Community health assessment
  • Local health department
  • Non-profit hospitals
  • Population health management
  • Public health accreditation
  • Resource dependence theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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