ASTHO Releases Comprehensive Overview of State Public Health, Finds Workforce is Diverse but Continues to Shrink

Jun 26, 2014, 10:11 ET from Association of State and Territorial Health Officials

ARLINGTON, Va., June 26, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) announces the publication of the ASTHO State Profile of Public Health, Volume 3, which is a comprehensive source of information about state public health agency activities, structure, and resources. First published in 2007, the profile aims to define the scope of state public health services, identify variations in practice among state public health agencies, and contribute to the development of best practices in governmental public health. The profile reports highlight descriptive findings from each survey round.

The full report and related materials are available for free on ASTHO's website at

"The Profile of State Public Health is an important resource for anyone who wants to understand how the health system works in this country and the vital role that state health agencies play in protecting and supporting the health of the population," says ASTHO Executive Director Paul E. Jarris, MD, MBA. "Looking through these pages, you see the breadth and importance of state health agency work, as well as the truly difficult decisions these agencies must make as federal and state budgets have stagnated."

Some important findings from this release of the profile include the following:

  • The size of the public health workforce continues to shrink. The profile corroborates findings from ASTHO's ongoing budget and finance surveys ( In the two years between reports, state health agencies trimmed approximately 5,000 jobs, or nearly 5 percent.
  • State health agencies are seeking to gain efficiency and effectiveness through the sharing of resources with other health agencies. Sixty-two percent of state health agencies report that they facilitate resource sharing among their local health departments. State health agencies are also looking at resource sharing with other states; 58 percent of states report sharing all-hazards preparedness and response resources with other states, and 36 percent report sharing epidemiology, or disease surveillance, with other states.
  • Federal funds continue to account for the largest source of state health agency funding—53 percent in fiscal year 2011. Consumer health (which includes clinical services among many other programs) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, also continue to be the two largest expenditure categories for state health agencies, each accounting for slightly more than one-quarter of total state health agency expenditures.

The profile also outlines the many services that state health agencies provide, including emergency preparedness; maternal and child health; work to achieve health equity; information sharing, assistance, and guidance to hospitals and other health providers; prevention and control work (such as tobacco and HIV programs); inspections and monitoring services; and providing clinical care.

Data for this volume of the report was collected in 2012 and 2013. Additional resources include six short summaries in specific areas and five infographics that graphically depict some of the findings from the profile.

ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia, as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in state-based public health practice. Twitter: @ASTHO.

SOURCE Association of State and Territorial Health Officials