Download this worksheet to track your progress and reflect on your own experience.
Across the country, people are working to transform their communities into places where everyone has the opportunity to live a long and healthy life.
Data can be useful to inform many efforts. In your community, people may use data to:
- Assess the health of your community, including areas of strengths
- Identify root causes of health issues
- Prioritize where to take action
- Track progress
- Support decision-making and policy change
- Identify and address health inequities.
But how and where do you start?
The guidance, tools, and examples you find here will help you understand the many ways you might use data in your own community.
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.
Community – Your defined population of interest. In the world of health improvement, community is often defined as a group of people affiliated by:
- Place, such as neighborhood, city, county, parish, or borough.
- Shared interests, such as the environment, schools, or spirituality.
- Similar situations, such as immigrant communities or people experiencing poverty.
- Identity, such as race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.
Population Health— The health outcomes of a group of individuals, including how health outcomes are distributed within a defined group. Groups can be defined geographically, like the population of a nation or county but can also be defined by other characteristics such as 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. We use this term 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.