Epidemiology Capacity Assessment
The Epidemiology Capacity Assessment (ECA) is a standardized national assessment of state health departments' core epidemiology capacity. The main objectives of the ECA are to count and characterize the state-employed epidemiologist workforce and measure current core epidemiology capacity. ECA examines state capacity to perform four of the Essential Services of Public Health: (1) monitoring health status to identify and solve community problems; (2) diagnosing and investigating health problems and health hazards in the community; (3) evaluating the effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of personal and population-based health services; and (4) conducting and evaluating research for new insights and innovative solutions to health problems.
The 2009 ECA questionnaire was made available on-line to the state epidemiologist in each state. Program-specific questions were referred to program epidemiologists. Worksheets on training, experience, and program areas of work were distributed to all identified epidemiologists. An epidemiologist was defined as any person who, regardless of job title, performed functions consistent with the definition of epidemiologist in the 4th edition of A Dictionary of Epidemiology (Last JM, Spasoff RA, Harris SS, Thuriaux MC, Ed. Oxford University Press, 2001). Estimates of capacity were defined as follows: full capacity - 100% of the activity, knowledge, or resources are met; almost full - 75%-99%; substantial - 50-74%; partial - 25%-49%; minimal - some, but
All 50 states and the District of Columbia participated in the 2009 ECA. Of the 2,193 epidemiologists identified, 1,544 (70%) completed worksheets describing their level of training and experience.
ECA is subject to at least two limitations: First, the assessment measures only epidemiology capacity in state health departments. The capacity of local health departments is not measured. Second, the methods used by respondents to estimate their capacity to perform the measured services are subjective and likely vary by state and year.
Assessment of Epidemiology Capacity in State Health Departments -- United States, 2009. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.58(49);1373-1377. 2009. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5849a1.htm.