The Importance of Partnerships in Local Health Department Practice among Communities with Exceptional Maternal and Child Health Outcomes

OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to identify unique practices underway in communities that have been empirically identified as having achieved exceptional maternal and child health (MCH) outcomes compared with their peers.

METHODS: We used a qualitative, positive deviance approach to identify practices implemented by local health department (LHD) jurisdictions in Florida, Washington, and New York that achieved better MCH outcomes than expected compared with their in-state peer jurisdictions. We identified a total of 50 LHDs in jurisdictions that had better than expected MCH outcomes compared with their peers, and we conducted 39 hour-long semistructured interviews with LHD staff. We conducted inductive thematic analysis to identify key themes and subthemes across all LHD cases in the sample.

RESULTS: Partnerships with providers, partnerships for data collection/assessment, and partnerships with community-based organizations were associated with exceptional MCH outcomes based on our interviews.

DISCUSSION: This study offers specific examples of practices LHDs can implement to improve MCH outcomes, even with limited resources, based on the practices of high-performing local health jurisdictions.