Mapping the Gaps: Enhancing Local Health Departments Capacity to Match Services to Health Needs

The researchers assessed whether and how geographic information systems (GIS) can be employed by local health departments (LHDs) to inform planning efforts so that they more closely align community health needs with public health services and programs. Specifically they: 1) examined how LHDs in California and Florida collect and use data to quantify community health needs and distribute LHD services and expenditures; and 2) worked with LHD partners to create a gap analysis that identifies spatial congruencies and mismatches between community health needs and the distribution of LHD programs and services. The objective of this project was to help shape decision making by policymakers by providing them with clear illustrations of the need for additional resources or redirection of current services and programs.