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Am J Public Health. 2001 Dec;91(12):1950-2.

Meeting the data needs of a local health department: the Los Angeles County Health Survey.

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Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, Los Angeles, Calif., USA.


Monitoring the health status of populations is a core function of all public health agencies but is particularly important at the municipal and community levels, where population health data increasingly are used to drive public health decision making and community health improvement efforts. Unfortunately, most local health jurisdictions lack important data for developing population health profiles, such as data on chronic disease prevalence, quality-of-life measures, functional status, and self-perceptions of health status. In addition, data on important determinants of health, including health behaviors and access to health care services, are rarely available locally. These data frequently are collected in national and state surveys (e.g., the National Health Interview Survey and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System) and provide critical information to assess progress toward achieving state and national health objectives. The surveys rarely serve local data needs, however, because of insufficient sample size and lack of flexibility to address local health issues. To address gaps in local health data, in 1997 the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services inaugurated the Los Angeles County Health Survey.

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