The purpose of this study was to characterize changes in and impacts on epidemiologic capacity in local health departments after the implementation of a state-funded epidemiologist program using qualitative data. The study used key informant interviews in Texas health departments, which were conducted and inductively analyzed to identify themes. Five predominant themes emerged from interviews on the impact of state-funded epidemiologists on the epidemiology capacity of local health departments. State-funded epidemiologists were seen as increasing overall epidemiology capacity in local health departments. Specifically, they improved timeliness of infectious disease reporting and quality and thoroughness of disease investigations. They also improved community stakeholder relationships with local health departments and communications across local, regional, and state public health agencies. Key informants at all levels described positive effects of the state-funded epidemiologists on disease surveillance. Local epidemiology capacity has increased, and, in turn, Texas public health surveillance capacity has improved at the local, regional, and state levels. Funding programs like this should be considered when public health capacity is low and in need of an increase.
- Public Health CapacitySurveillanceEpidemic ManagementResponse