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Am J Public Health. 2015 Apr;105 Suppl 2:S268-73. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302499. Epub 2015 Feb 17.

How Connecticut health directors deal with public health budget cuts at the local level.

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At the time of the study, Margaret L. Prust and Brigette Davis were with the Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT. Kathleen Clark, Sarah W. Pallas, and Stephanie Platis were with the Division of Health Policy and Administration, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven. Jennifer Kertanis is with the Connecticut Association of Directors of Health, Hartford. Elaine O'Keefe is with the Office of Community Health and Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven. Michael Araas, Neel S. Iyer, and Stewart Dandorf were with the Division of Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven. Debbie Humphries is with the Division of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven.



We investigated the perspectives of local health jurisdiction (LHJ) directors on coping mechanisms used to respond to budget reductions and constraints on their decision-making.


We conducted in-depth interviews with 17 LHJ directors. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using the constant comparative method.


LHJ directors use a range of coping mechanisms, including identifying alternative revenue sources, adjusting services, amending staffing arrangements, appealing to local political leaders, and forming strategic partnerships. LHJs also face constraints on their decision-making because of state and local statutory requirements, political priorities, pressures from other LHJs, and LHJ structure.


LHJs respond creatively to budget cuts to maintain important public health services. Some LHJ adjustments to administrative resources may obscure the long-term costs of public health budget cuts in such areas as staff morale and turnover. Not all coping strategies are available to each LHJ because of the contextual constraints of its locality, pointing to important policy questions on identifying optimum jurisdiction size and improving efficiency.

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