ASTHO's briefs are short 1- to 2-page reports or infographics that provide a summary of key topics, programs, policies, or research findings of importance and interest to state and territorial health officials and partners.

Exploring Innovations in GIS and Visualization for Healthier Communities

November 23, 2020

This brief details innovative uses of geographic information systems (GIS) in public health. It showcases original research conducted by ASTHO staff to better understand the value of GIS in mapping national public health emergencies—like the COVID-19 pandemic—and highlights how public health practice can be strengthened by linking environmental health and healthcare data.Read More »

Advancing Breastfeeding During a Pandemic

November 20, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges for breastfeeding families and state breastfeeding initiatives. This brief discusses these challenges and how states in ASTHO’s Breastfeeding Learning Community are overcoming COVID-19 challenges and continuing their efforts to make policies, systems, and environments more breastfeeding-friendly. Strategies include utilizing online training for lactation support staff, holding virtual focus groups, removing financial barriers to program participation, and educating employers on how improving lactation accommodations supports the COVID-19 response.Read More »

Virtual Food Safety Inspections During the COVID-19 Pandemic

October 29, 2020

Beginning in March 2020, the rapid implementation of COVID-19 social distancing and stay-at-home orders required many food establishments to adopt takeout and/or food delivery models. To ensure that establishments were abiding by food safety rules and to protect the health of professionals who inspect these facilities, multiple state health agencies implemented virtual inspection protocols. This brief overviews virtual protocols from Hawaii, Virginia, and South Carolina to provide other state and territorial health agencies examples of how these inspections are performed.Read More »

Postpartum Depression: Expanding Screening Practices to Improve Outcomes

September 25, 2020

This brief describes why expanded postpartum depression screening and coverage are necessary for improving health outcomes and reducing disparities for both mother and child. The brief then offers three collaboratie strategies for how state health departments can build strong cross-sector programs with providers and systems that expand access to and practice of depression screening.Read More »

The Impact of COVID-19 Telehealth Flexibilities on Maternity Care

September 02, 2020

This brief focuses on how telehealth expansion during the COVID-19 pandemic has increased access to care for pregnant and postpartum women, and made maternal and child health care services like doulas and midwives more accessible. The brief also discusses how the maternal and child health workforce is leveraging telehealth to provide virtual services to underserved communities to potentially reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes.Read More »

Fighting Compassion Fatigue During Public Health Epidemics

August 13, 2020

This brief discusses the difficulty of maintaining compassion and empathy during public health crises such, which ultimately leads to a phenomenon called compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue can test resiliency in responders and contribute to negative outcomes for those they serve. Through promoting self-care and compassion in health agencies, responders can increase resiliency and combat the negative effects of compassion fatigue, particularly during extended responses to public health crises.Read More »

The Role of Peer Support in Federally Qualified Health Centers

August 13, 2020

Peer support is increasingly recognized as a critical component of successful recovery from substance use disorder. This brief discusses what peer support is, how it is financed, and how incorporating peer support services into federally qualified health centers can be an especially successful strategy for delivering care to safety-net populations. Examples from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Michigan, and Massachusetts are highlighted.Read More »

The Rise of Primary Care Transformation: State and Territorial Primary Care Offices Play A Key Role

July 30, 2020

This brief discusses the roles state primary care offices (PCOs) have in addressing primary care transformation. PCOs uncover critical primary and preventive needs affecting their states/territories and recognize key target populations at risk for limited healthcare access. Through transformational practices like primary care integration, workforce development, and partnership opportunities, PCOs can increase access to care and improve health outcomes for states. We describe key findings from the ASTHO primary care intensive learning community, highlighting PCO examples from North Dakota, Maryland, and Florida.Read More »

Georgia and Ohio’s Modernized Opioid Surveillance Strategies

July 24, 2020

This brief highlights how the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Ohio Department of Health developed robust opioid overdose surveillance systems. Collecting and disseminating comprehensive data informs prevention activities and drives a targeted response to the opioid epidemic. Georgia and Ohio enhanced their opioid overdose surveillance systems by building partnerships, linking data, and improving data collection methods.Read More »

Performance Management Essentials

July 24, 2020

Sustaining a performance management system is key to its success. A strong performance management system can help transform an agency’s practice so it is aligned, data driven, and focused on achieving improved outcomes for the population. This brief highlights four top takeaways from the experience of six public health agencies working to establish and strengthen their own performance management systems.Read More »

Breastfeeding Promotes Early Brain Development

June 22, 2020

Breastfeeding and early child nutrition are crucial for promoting healthy early brain development. This infographic details how skin-to-skin breastfeeding and breastmilk promote infant brain development, higher educational performance, and cognitive and socio-emotional health. Also included are examples of equity-focused state and national initiatives to promote breastfeeding and early brain development.Read More »

Breastfeeding Support Through Perinatal Quality Collaboratives

June 16, 2020

Perinatal Quality Collaboratives (PQCs) are state or multi-state networks of teams that work to improve clinical care for mothers and infants, primarily by identifying healthcare processes that need improvement and rapidly aligning to enact change. This infographic outlines recommendations for how PQCs can promote breastfeeding through quality improvement strategies, and includes examples of three state PQCs that have improved policies, procedures, and practices to better support breastfeeding in hospitals.Read More »

Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Initiatives in Three USAPI Jurisdictions

June 01, 2020

Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in Guam, Palau, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. These jurisdictions are taking innovative steps to reduce hypertension among their populations, though, with strategies focused on holistic, affordable, community-centered programs. This brief outlines these approaches and includes recommendations for other jurisdictions facing similar difficulties and limitations.Read More »

Preventing Fatal Overdoses in Postpartum Populations

May 13, 2020

This brief outlines key considerations for state health departments to address the increase in overdose-related deaths during the postpartum period. A common tool emerging around the country is extending Medicaid coverage to women beyond 60 days postpartum—we analyze approaches being implemented by Missouri, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, and other jurisdiction.Read More »

Medication-Assisted Treatment in Pregnancy

April 30, 2020

Pregnant and postpartum women with opioid use disorder continue to struggle with accessing services that would make recovery possible, including medication-assisted treatment, housing assistance, childcare, and more. To address this vulnerable population’s needs, states have explored a variety of policy approaches to improve access to care. This brief outlines some of the barriers that pregnant and postpartum women with opioid use disorder face, as well as examples of state legislation passed to address recovery program implementation, treatment funding and insurance coverage, and provider education.Read More »

Using Data to Combat Opioid-Related Harms

January 24, 2020

Since the opioid epidemic was officially declared a federal public health emergency in October 2017, states have undertaken a wide range of activities to address opioid-related harms. In February 2019, ASTHO surveyed its members to understand how data is being utilized to address these harms in their jurisdictions. This brief summarizes the results of this survey and highlights data-based approaches used to address four types of opioid-related harms: prenatal substance exposure, neonatal abstinence syndrome, adverse childhood experiences, and injection drug use-associated infections.Read More »

Taxation Strategies to Reduce Tobacco Use

December 02, 2019

Increasing tobacco taxes in states is an effective method for encouraging cessation among youth. This brief outlines leading tobacco taxation strategies implemented by New York state, Washington, D.C., and Connecticut. Topics covered include effective strategies for passing tobacco tax policies, including bundling the policy within a larger package of tobacco-related bills, allowing communities and coalitions to champion advocacy efforts, and supporting implementation efforts.Read More »

Interconnecting Behavioral and Public Health

October 07, 2019

Responding to behavioral health issues like suicide, adverse childhood experiences, and substance misuse requires collaboration between public health and behavioral health agencies. This brief outlines key considerations for state health departments to keep in mind as they create financing, data, and policy partnerships with behavioral health stakeholders.Read More »

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances: Contaminants of Emerging Concern

October 07, 2019

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of several thousand synthetic compounds that are found in a wide range of commodities. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) are two of the most regularly investigated and discussed PFAS. This brief gives an overview of the public health significance of PFAS exposures, some challenges related to PFAS for state health agencies, and recent federal actions to protect communities from PFAS.Read More »

State Approaches for Promoting Family-Centered Care for Pregnant and Postpartum Women with Substance Use Disorders

October 02, 2019

The use of opioids and other substances during pregnancy has increased significantly in the past decade, and so too have complications from their use. Opioid and substance use disorders (SUD) continue to affect families beyond pregnancy; in 2017, about one in eight (8.7 million) U.S. children lived in a household where at least one parent had a SUD in the prior year. This brief discusses opportunities to engage families in SUD treatment.Read More »

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