Measuring Public Health System Capital

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Data collected from the National Longitudinal Survey of Public Health Systems (NLSPHS, as of 2018 NALSYS) are used in measuring public health system capital such as Comprehensive Public Health Systems – one of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Culture of Health National Metrics. Configurations in public health system capital can vary over time by community but results from the NLSPHS suggest a general trend towards comprehensive population health systems (see figure below).




A community is characterized as having a comprehensive Public Health System when a broad scope of recommended population health activities are implemented in the community (>75%), when there is a dense network of multi-sector relationships of contributing organizations, and when there are central actors to coordinate the implementation of the recommended public health activities.

Alternatively, a community is configured as having conventional system capital if a moderate scope of population health activities (50%-75%) are available through a lower-density networks of contributing organizations.

If only a narrow scope of recommended population health activities (<50%) are implemented through lower-density networks of contributing organizations, then that community is defined as having limited system capital.