The Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey: The First National Survey of State Health Agency Employees

J Public Health Manag Pract. Nov-Dec 2015;21 Suppl 6(Suppl 6):S13-27. doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000331.


Context: Public health practitioners, policy makers, and researchers alike have called for more data on individual worker's perceptions about workplace environment, job satisfaction, and training needs for a quarter of a century. The Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey (PH WINS) was created to answer that call.

Objective: Characterize key components of the public health workforce, including demographics, workplace environment, perceptions about national trends, and perceived training needs.

Design: A nationally representative survey of central office employees at state health agencies (SHAs) was conducted in 2014. Approximately 25,000 e-mail invitations to a Web-based survey were sent out to public health staff in 37 states, based on a stratified sampling approach. Balanced repeated replication weights were used to account for the complex sampling design.

Setting and participants: A total of 10,246 permanently employed SHA central office employees participated in PH WINS (46% response rate).

Main outcome measures: Perceptions about training needs; workplace environment and job satisfaction; national initiatives and trends; and demographics.

Results: Although the majority of staff said they were somewhat or very satisfied with their job (79%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 78-80), as well as their organization (65%; 95% CI, 64-66), more than 42% (95% CI, 41-43) were considering leaving their organization in the next year or retiring before 2020; 4% of those were considering leaving for another job elsewhere in governmental public health. The majority of public health staff at SHA central offices are female (72%; 95% CI, 71-73), non-Hispanic white (70%; 95% CI, 69-71), and older than 40 years (73%; 95% CI, 72-74). The greatest training needs include influencing policy development, preparing a budget, and training related to the social determinants of health.

Conclusions: PH WINS represents the first nationally representative survey of SHA employees. It holds significant potential to help answer previously unaddressed questions in public health workforce research and provides actionable findings for SHA leaders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Government Agencies / trends
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Policy Making
  • Public Health* / methods
  • State Government
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workforce