Since 2011, CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities reports have highlighted public health programs that are both innovative and effective. A recent supplement details some of the most successful.
The key components to an effective public health program include evidence-based interventions, partnerships, and performance management, says CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, in a foreword to the supplement. Of these components, performance management—real-time monitoring and evaluation to ensure continuous improvement—is particularly important. But results in public health programs may not be apparent for months or even years. “Even the best designed programs might fail without timely, honest evaluation,” notes Friedan.
The 8 programs featured in the supplement are praised for effective performance management, such as sustainable monitoring systems. The supplement also included the Boston Children’s Hospital’s Community Asthma Initiative, which focuses on black and Hispanic low-income children who are hospitalized with complications of asthma more often than white children. The program offers advanced asthma care, including case management and home visits. Evaluations found the program significantly improved asthma outcomes over a 3-year period. The program has been adapted to local cultural variations in other cities and states.
The programs described in the supplement demonstrate that public health disparities can be overcome by “innovative, well-designed, and consistently evaluated programs that build viable and sustainable long-term partnerships and inspire political commitment through effective implementation and communication,” says Frieden.