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National Profile of Local Health Departments


The National Profile of Local Health Departments (NPLHD) is the most comprehensive source of information on the infrastructure and programs of local health departments in the U.S. All local health departments in the U.S. are surveyed about their organization, responsibilities, workforce, funding, and other topics.

Data Years Available: 
1989, 1992-93, 1996-97, 2005, 2008
Mode of Collection: 
Web-based survey, with paper option.
Selected Content: 
Core components include activities, community assessment and planning, emergency preparedness, funding, governance, jurisdictional information, and workforce. Supplemental components address topics such as core competencies.
Population Covered: 
All health departments in the U.S. meeting the definition of a local health department. Hawaii and Rhode Island are excluded because state health departments in those states operate on behalf of local public health and have no sub-state units.
NPLHD defines a local health department (LHD) as an administrative or service unit of local or state government concerned with health and carrying out some responsibility for the health of a jurisdiction smaller than the state. The 2008 survey was fielded through an email sent to the top agency executive of every eligible LHD. The email included a link to a web-based questionnaire, preloaded with information specific to the LHD. Paper questionnaires were available for a subset of small LHDs. A core set of questions was sent to all LHDs. In addition, the survey included three modules of supplemental questions, one of which was included in the questionnaire for a random sample of LHDs. Survey responses were weighted for national estimates.
Response Rates and Sample Size: 
In 2008, 2,794 LHDs were surveyed. Of these, 2,332 responded, for an overall response rate of 83%.
Interpretation Issues: 

National Association of County and City Health Officials: 2008 Profile of Local Health Departments. July, 2009. Available at: