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Privatization of local health department services: Effects on the practice of health education.

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  • Medicine
  • Political Science


Local health departments (LHDs) are changing service delivery mechanisms to accommodate changes in health care financing and decreased public support for governmental services. This study examined the extent to which North Carolina LHDs privatized and contracted out services and the effects on the time spent on core functions of public health and activities of health educators. Questionnaires were mailed to the senior health educators in all LHDs. Sixty-nine responded, and 68% of LHDs had not privatized any services other than laboratory and home health. Clinical services were more commonly privatized than nonclinical services. Respondents perceived that privatization produces more time for LHDs to address the core public health functions and for health educators to engage in appropriate professional activities. Health educators in LHDs that had not privatized were more likely to be concerned about potential negative effects. This study suggests that privatization has generally had a positive effect on the roles of health educators in North Carolina LHDs.

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