Background: The outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa and confirmation of the first cases in the United States highlight the need for robust and responsive public health surveillance system. With a 25% decline in funding since 2007, the impact on local surveillance capacities has not previously been described.
Purpose: The Surveillance & Investigation domain of the Local Health Department Preparedness Capacities Survey (PCAS) was reweighted to reflect the national profile of LHDs. Changes in subdomain performance of capacities and the effect of population size on subdomain capacity performance were examined over time.
Methods: Participating LHDs (n=208) from the PCAS sample were reweighted according to characteristics from the 2010 National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) Profile. Overall changes in preparedness capacity across four subdomains from 2010 to 2012 were tested for significant differences using a weighted t-test. A series of weighted least squares regression models were used to determine whether population size may have modified the temporal changes in preparedness capacity.
Results: Significant declines were observed in the preparedness capacity in three of the four subdomains of Surveillance & Investigation. Results suggest that surveillance inputs from various sources, including hospitals, urgent care, poison control, pharmacies, and schools absentee reporting, especially for larger LHDs, may be more sensitive to changes or shifts over time versus others.
Implications: Declines in preparedness capacity may have affected the ability of LHDs, particularly larger ones, to effectively respond to community preparedness needs and, specifically, the detection of highly communicable and novel disease events.
Recommended citation: Bevc CA, Davis MV, Schenck AP. Measuring changes in local surveillance and investigation capacity. Front Public Health Serv Sys Res 2015;4(4):1–6. DOI: 10.13023/FPHSSR.0404.01.