What Works for Health

Policies and programs that can improve health

Nutrition and physical activity interventions in preschool & child care

Offer young children opportunities to eat healthy foods and engage in physical activity by providing fresh fruits and vegetables, incorporating physical activity into daily classroom routines, etc.

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Diet and Exercise

Nutrition prescriptions

Provide prescriptions with healthy eating goals for patients and families, often accompanied by progress checks at office visits; can include partnerships with local farmers’ markets via FVRx programs

Evidence Rating:
Expert Opinion
Health Factor(s):
Diet and Exercise

On-site child care

Provide employees with child care options at work; care may be provided free of charge, partially subsidized as part of an employee benefit package, or offered at market rates

Evidence Rating:
Insufficient Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Employment

Online grocery stores

Use internet-based shopping sites to supply refrigerated, frozen, and non-perishable groceries for residential ordering and delivery

Evidence Rating:
Insufficient Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Diet and Exercise

Open gym time

Offer time during the school day for children to play in the gym, often during lunch period; joint use agreements can expand open gym opportunities to community members outside school hours

Evidence Rating:
Expert Opinion
Health Factor(s):
Diet and Exercise

Open Streets

Allow community members to gather, socialize, walk, run, bike, skate, etc. by closing selected streets temporarily to motorized traffic; also called Ciclovía programs

Evidence Rating:
Expert Opinion
Health Factor(s):
Diet and Exercise, Family and Social Support

Out of town bypasses

Establish roads that avoid built-up areas such as towns, cities, or commercial/business districts

Evidence Rating:
Some Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Housing and Transit, Community Safety

Outdoor experiential education & wilderness therapy

Support outdoor pursuits that emphasize inter- and intra-personal growth through overcoming obstacles (e.g., challenge courses, wilderness excursions, etc.)

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Family and Social Support

Paid family leave

Provide employees with paid time off for circumstances such as a recent birth or adoption, a parent or spouse with a serious medical condition, or a sick child

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Employment

Paid sick leave laws

Require employers in an affected jurisdiction to provide paid time off for employees to use when ill or injured

Evidence Rating:
Some Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Employment

Parents as Teachers (PAT)

Support home visits that teach parents about early childhood development and effective parenting strategies, with child development screenings, parental meetings, and links to community resources

Evidence Rating:
Some Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Education

Parish nursing

Position registered nurses within a parish or similar faith community, or in a health care system to serve as a liaison to congregations; also called faith community nursing or congregational nursing

Evidence Rating:
Expert Opinion
Health Factor(s):
Access to Care

Patient financial incentives for preventive care

Use payments, vouchers, and other incentives to encourage patients to undergo preventive care such as screenings, vaccinations, etc.

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Quality of Care

Patient navigators

Provide culturally sensitive assistance and care coordination, and guide patients through available medical, insurance, and social support; also called systems navigators

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Quality of Care

Patient safety checklists

Use visual tools to prompt safe practices, standardize communication, and ensure no step is forgotten before or during a medical procedure or other health care situation

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Quality of Care

Patient shared decision making

Support joint decision making between health care practitioners and patients through shared decision making (SDM); part of patient-centered care

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Quality of Care

Payday loan regulations

Regulate small, short-term loans that must be repaid by a borrower’s next pay day via bans, caps on maximum interest rates and loan amounts, minimum loan terms, truth in lending statements, etc.

Evidence Rating:
Insufficient Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Income

Permeable pavement projects

Use pervious concrete, porous asphalt, permeable interlocking pavers, open-jointed blocks or cells, or other permeable pavement in individual or commercial development efforts; also called porous or pervious pavement

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Air and Water Quality

Physically active classrooms

Incorporate physical activity breaks, classroom energizers, or moving activities into academic lessons, usually for elementary students

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Diet and Exercise

Places for physical activity

Modify local environments to support physical activity, increase access to new or existing facilities for physical activity, or build new facilities

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Diet and Exercise

Playground safety regulations

Adopt regulations that address the safety of playground environment, equipment, and materials, as well as adult supervision

Evidence Rating:
Some Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Community Safety

Point-of-decision prompts for physical activity

Place motivational signs on or near stairwells, elevators, and escalators that encourage individuals to use stairs

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Diet and Exercise

Point-of-purchase prompts for healthy foods

Place motivational signs on posters, front of package labels, or shelf labels near fruits, vegetables and other items that encourage individuals to purchase healthier food options

Evidence Rating:
Some Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Diet and Exercise

Practice facilitation for primary care

Engage practice coaches or facilitators to work with primary care clinic staff to redesign clinical practices, organize quality improvement efforts, improve communication, share best practices, etc.

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Quality of Care

Preconception education interventions

Provide women with information about the risks and benefits of behaviors that affect their health before, during, and after pregnancy

Evidence Rating:
Some Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Access to Care

Preschool & child care Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS)

Support quality improvement efforts in early child care and preschool via financial incentives, standards, processes to monitor standards and ensure compliance, etc.

Evidence Rating:
Some Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Education

Preschool education programs

Provide center-based programs that support cognitive and social-emotional growth among children who are not old enough to enter formal schooling

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Education

Preschool programs with family support services

Provide center-based programs that support cognitive and social-emotional growth among young children from low income families, with supports such as home visiting or parental skills training

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Education

Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs)

Use databases, housed in state agencies, to track prescribing and dispensing of Schedule II, III, IV, and V drugs and other controlled substances

Evidence Rating:
Some Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Alcohol and Drug Use

Price transparency initiatives for patients

Make pricing for hospital procedures and other health care services publicly available, often via websites, online databases, report cards, or similar tools

Evidence Rating:
Some Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Quality of Care

Primary seat belt enforcement laws

Allow law enforcement officials to stop drivers solely for failing to use a seat belt

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Community Safety

Professionally trained medical interpreters

Provide interpretation services for patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) in outpatient and inpatient health care settings, following training and certification

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Quality of Care

Promise Academy Charter Schools

Create a school culture of high behavioral and academic expectations, with intense tutoring, increased teacher performance feedback, lengthened instruction time, and health care services

Evidence Rating:
Some Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Education

Proper drug disposal programs

Establish programs that accept expired, unwanted, or unused medicines from designated users and dispose of them responsibly

Evidence Rating:
Expert Opinion
Health Factor(s):
Alcohol and Drug Use, Air and Water Quality

Public reporting of health care quality performance

Make clinician, clinic, hospital, long-term care facility and insurance plan performance on health care quality measures publicly available via report cards, reporting websites, or similar tools

Evidence Rating:
Some Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Quality of Care

Public reporting of health care-associated infections

Make health care facilities’ health care-associated or hospital-acquired infection (HAI) rates readily available to patients and providers

Evidence Rating:
Expert Opinion
Health Factor(s):
Quality of Care

Public transportation systems

Introduce or expand transportation options that are available to the public and run on a scheduled timetable (e.g., buses, trains, ferries, rapid transit, etc.)

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Housing and Transit

Radon mitigation programs

Prevent radon from entering occupied buildings and reduce existing indoor air radon levels via soil depressurization, home or room pressurization, heat recovery ventilation, etc.

Evidence Rating:
Some Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Housing and Transit

Rain barrels

Use ready-made or home constructed barrel systems to collect and store rainwater from rooftops that would otherwise flow to storm drains and streams

Evidence Rating:
Some Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Air and Water Quality

Rain gardens & other bioretention systems

Establish bioretention systems (e.g., rain gardens, bioretention cells, green roofs, planter boxes, bioswales, etc.) to make city landscapes more permeable

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Air and Water Quality

Rapid re-housing programs

Transition families and individuals experiencing homelessness into permanent housing quickly, often with supports such as short-term financial assistance, case management, landlord negotiations, etc.

Evidence Rating:
Some Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Housing and Transit

Reach Out and Read

Partner with doctors, nurse practitioners, and other medical professionals to incorporate literacy support into regular well-child visits, especially in lower income communities

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Education

Recreational marijuana legalization

Allow adults to possess a limited amount of marijuana for personal, non-medical use

Evidence Rating:
Insufficient Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Alcohol and Drug Use, Community Safety

Recreational sports leagues for adults

Offer opportunities for adults to play athletic games such as soccer, softball, kickball, basketball, etc. at beginner, intermediate, and competitive levels

Evidence Rating:
Expert Opinion
Health Factor(s):
Diet and Exercise

Refundable child and dependent care tax credit

Offer a refundable tax credit to working families with qualifying children or other dependents that receive care outside the home (e.g., a spouse with disabilities)

Evidence Rating:
Expert Opinion
Health Factor(s):
Income

Rent regulation policies

Establish tenant protections via regulations to the housing rental market such as limits on rent increases and eviction protections for tenants with low incomes; typically via rent stabilization

Evidence Rating:
Expert Opinion
Health Factor(s):
Housing and Transit

Reproductive life plans

Establish plans consistent with personal values and current life circumstances that set goals related to having or not having children; goals often change over time

Evidence Rating:
Expert Opinion
Health Factor(s):
Access to Care

Responsible beverage server training (RBS/RBST)

Educate owners, managers, servers, and sellers at alcohol establishments about strategies to avoid illegally selling alcohol to underage youth or intoxicated patrons

Evidence Rating:
Some Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Alcohol and Drug Use

Restaurant nutrition labeling

Provide nutrition information on menus and signboards at restaurants and other food outlets

Evidence Rating:
Some Evidence
Health Factor(s):
Diet and Exercise

Restorative justice in the criminal justice system

Use victim-offender dialogue to address the harm caused by a crime and victims’ needs; can take place pre-arrest or post sentence via sharing circles, victim-offender mediation, or face-to-face conferences

Evidence Rating:
Scientifically Supported
Health Factor(s):
Community Safety