3188.0: Monday, November 13, 2000 - 5:25 PM

Abstract #10933

Defining public health core functions through a Delphi Study

Vivian Lin, Dr, Professor, School of Health Sciences, La Trobe University, Bundoora, 3083, Australia, 6 3 9479 1743, v.lin@latrobe.edu.au, Tony Adams, Dr, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Canberra 0200, Australian Capital Territory, Australia, Jenny Lewis, Dr, Centre for the Study of Health and Society, The University of Melbourne, Parkville 3052, Melbourne, Australia, and Gianfranco Spinoso, Mr, Secretariat, National Public Health Partnership, GPO Box 1670N, Melbourne, 3000, Australia.

What infrastructure and capacity does the public health system require to respond effectively to known and emerging challenges ? This fundamental question underlies the Australian Delphi Study, undertaken during 1999, to define the core functions of public health. The study, the first of its kind in Australia, was undertaken by the National Public Health Partnership - a national collaboration which is breaking new ground in managing public health in a federally governed country. A consensus survey method was used to define the core functions of public health for Australia’s unique circumstances. The study comprised two survey rounds with respondents covering the spectrum of public health disciplines. First round questionnaires were sent to 235 public health opinion leaders and 119 responses were received. Of these 119, a total of 75 completed the second round questionnaire. Despite the diversity of the Australian public health community, a surprising level of consensus was found on what are public health functions and which ones are considered to be the most important. Based on the findings, 10 categories of core functions have been identified. Specific practices under each category have also been defined and classified as either "established" or "evolving". The results of the study will be presented and compared with definitions of public health core functions adopted elsewhere. Possible applications of the study findings will be discussed particularly in relation to public health capacity building. The study relates closely to work carried out in the USA and by the World Health Organisation.

Learning Objectives: The session information will cover (1) a methodology for developing a consensus definition of public health core functions in a federal system of government (2) the categories of core functions defined in Australia and how these compare with other definitions especially those adopted in the USA and by the World Health Organisation and (3) future applications of the core functions definition. As a result of attending the session partcipants should be able to (1) describe a Delphi Study approach to defining core functions and assess its merits (2) identify key issues encountered in defining core functions (3) discuss possible applications of the concept of core functions especially in relation to capacity building

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA