Epidemiology Surveillance and Capacity Improvement: A Characterization of Texas, 2017. Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • OBJECTIVES: In response to increasing caseloads of foodborne illnesses and high consequence infectious disease investigations, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) requested funding from the Texas Legislature in 2013 and 2015 for a new state-funded epidemiologist (SFE) program. METHODS: Primary cross-sectional survey data were collected from 32 of 40 local health departments (LHDs) via an online instrument and analyzed to quantify roles, responsibilities, and training of epidemiologists in Texas in 2017 and compared to similar state health department assessments. RESULTS: Sixty-six percent of SFEs had epidemiology-specific training (eg, master's in public health) compared to 45% in state health department estimates. For LHDs included in this study, the mean number of epidemiologists per 100 000 was 0.73 in medium LHDs and 0.46 in large LHDs. SFE positions make up approximately 40% of the LHD epidemiology workforce of all sizes and 56% of medium-sized LHD epidemiology staff in Texas specifically. CONCLUSIONS: Through this program, DSHS increased epidemiology capacity almost twofold from 0.28 to 0.47 epidemiologists per 100 000 people. These findings suggest that capacity funding programs like this improve epidemiology capacity in local jurisdictions and should be considered in other regions to improve general public health preparedness and epidemiology capacity.

author list (cited authors)

  • Stone, K. W., Felkner, M., Garza, E., Perez-Patron, M., Schmit, C., McDonald, T. J., & Horney, J. A.

publication date

  • January 1, 2021 11:11 AM