The Relationship between Health Department Accreditation and Workforce Satisfaction, Retention, and Training Needs

Valerie A. Yeager, Casey P. Balio, Jessica Kronstadt, Leslie M. Beitsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


To improve quality and consistency of health departments, a voluntary accreditation process was developed by the Public Health Accreditation Board. Understanding accreditation's role as a mediator in workforce training needs, satisfaction, and awareness is important for continued improvement for governmental public health. Objective: To compare differences in training needs, satisfaction/intent to leave, and awareness of public health concepts for state and local health department staff with regard to their agency's accreditation status. Design: This cross-sectional study considered the association between agency accreditation status and individual perceptions of training needs, satisfaction, intent to leave, and awareness of public health concepts, using 2017 Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey (PH WINS) data. Respondents were categorized on the basis of whether their agencies (at the time of survey) were (1) uninvolved in accreditation, (2) formally involved in accreditation, or (3) accredited. Results: Multivariate logistic regression models found several significant differences, including the following: individuals from involved state agencies were less likely to report having had their training needs assessed; staff from accredited and involved agencies identified more gaps in selected skills; and employees of accredited agencies were more aware of quality improvement. While state employees in accredited and formally involved agencies reported less job satisfaction, there were no significant differences in intent to leave or burnout. Differences were identified concerning awareness of various public health concepts, especially among respondents in state agencies. Conclusions: While some findings were consistent with past research (eg, link between accreditation and quality improvement), others were not (eg, job satisfaction). Several self-reported skill gaps were unanticipated, given accreditation's emphasis on training. Potentially, as staff are exposed to accreditation topics, they gain more appreciation of skills development needs. Findings suggest opportunities to strengthen workforce development components when revising accreditation measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S113-S123
JournalJournal of Public Health Management and Practice
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • accreditation
  • health department
  • public health workforce
  • workforce development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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