Download this worksheet to track your progress and reflect on your own experience.
Across the country, people are working to create communities where everyone has the opportunity to live their healthiest life.
Data can help a community tell their story. Data can focus on past and present context, including the history of laws, policies, practices and budgets that impact health. Data are pieces of information that help us understand the world in which we live. They can be presented as:
- first-person narratives
- observations, or
Understanding and assessing the health of a community and the various groups of people within it can help you:
- Identify strengths and assets to build upon.
- Decide how to best allocate resources.
- Understand values and experiences.
- Prioritize efforts to improve health for all.
But how and where do you start?
The guidance, tools, and examples you find here will get you started with finding and making sense of existing data.
What is Health?
Throughout this guide we’ll refer to “health.” We define health in the broadest possible terms.
Think of all the things that affect our health: sure, we could all eat better, move more, and make sure we get our annual check-ups, but there’s much more. The quality of our homes, the safety of our neighborhoods, and our chance at a good education all influence health in the short and long term.
For some people, the essential elements for a healthy life are readily available. But for others, the opportunities for healthy choices are limited.
The health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group. These groups are often geographic populations such as nations or communities but can also be other groups as identified by race or ethnicity, persons with disabilities, people who are incarcerated, or any other defined group (Kindig & Stoddart, 2003; Kindig 2007).
|Population||The whole group that is being studied or measured.|
Your defined population of interest. In the world of health improvement, community is often defined as a group of people affiliated by:
We use the term community broadly to allow you to define your own community.
Kindig, DA, Stoddart G. (2003). What is population health? American Journal of Public Health, 93, 366-369.
Kindig DA. (2007). Understanding Population Health Terminology. Milbank Quarterly, 85(1), 139-161.