Development and Scoring of a Survey on Public Health Accreditation Capacity

Melanie D. Whittington, Adam J. Atherly, Li Wu Chen, Lisa VanRaemdonck, Sarah Lampe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Public health accreditation is a 7-step process that starts with a period of preapplication during which a health department assesses its readiness for accreditation. However, no tools with established reliability and validity that quantitatively measure a local health department’s (LHD’s) capacity for accreditation are available to complete this initial step. We developed and validated a survey to measure accreditation capacity for LHDs. Methods: From January through April 2015, we administered a cross-sectional electronic survey instrument with 15 questions that tapped into domains of capacity for public health accreditation. We analyzed and grouped responses by using a confirmatory maximum likelihood factor analysis with oblique rotations. We assessed reliability by using Cronbach α, and we assessed validity by comparing responses with previously established instruments. We administered the survey to 174 LHD directors in Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska, 153 (88%) of whom responded. Results: The factor analysis produced a 3-factor model of accreditation capacity, suggesting that accreditation capacity depends on 3 distinct latent constructs: support for accreditation, preparation, and planning and approach. The model had good scale reliability (average Cronbach α = 0.7) and validity (average factor correlation = 0.43). Conclusions: The survey developed and scored in this analysis can be used by LHDs to inform the feasibility of initiating the time-intensive and costly process of accreditation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-32
Number of pages8
JournalPublic Health Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • accreditation
  • capacity
  • factor analysis
  • psychometrics
  • public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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