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Selected Contributions to Public Health

Surveillance and Survey Development


Examples of achievements are summarized here and regularly updated. Achievements associated with CDC’s Winnable Battles are noted. This term describes public health priorities having large-scale impact on health and for which effective strategies are known.



Obesity Winnable Battle In February 2012, the Case Western Reserve University PRC released survey data detailing prevalence of three health conditions, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, in Cleveland neighborhoods. The data, from the 2005–2009 Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, reveal trends and differences in the three health conditions by neighborhood among Cleveland adults. Previously, such data were available only for the city of Cleveland as a whole. The Case Western PRC published data briefs for the three health conditions using maps, charts, and tables to illustrate differences by age, race, and sex, as well as by neighborhood. In a press release, Terry Allen, commissioner of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health called the briefs "compelling" and said, "They offer the opportunity to focus increasingly precious resources on community programs and academic research initiatives to reduce health disparities." Karen K. Butler, director of the Cleveland Department of Public Health, said, "The collections and analysis of this critical information will help to inform and guide the city of Cleveland's public health strategies."

CDC Winnable Battle: Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity

Read the data briefs, detailed statistical tables, and summary of methods.



Deaf and hearing researchers and community members from the University of Rochester PRC created the Deaf Health Survey, a video-based survey of health risk behaviors among deaf adults who use American Sign Language. Because national health surveys are not conducted in sign language, little is known about the health risk behaviors of deaf adults. The survey produced the first health surveillance data from deaf adults in Rochester. The partners are refining the survey technology so that deaf people can routinely participate in surveys that are the basis of effective health promotion strategies.

Read the feature story about the PRC's work.



Obesity Winnable BattleAs the Women’s Cardiovascular Health Network, six PRCs collaborated to develop and test two surveys: one survey identified the social, cultural, and environmental factors and policies that influence a woman’s decision to engage in physical activity; the other tool measured women's activity levels. The centers tested the surveys with groups of African-American and low-income women living in urban and rural areas of Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, Saint Louis, and South Carolina as well as Navajo, Pueblo, and urban Native-American women in New Mexico. The network made its findings and survey instruments available to community, state, and public health agencies to help in the design of culturally appropriate interventions.

CDC Winnable Battle: Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity

Access an abstract about the network (through PubMed).



In September 2010, the Texas A&M PRC released its third 4-year comprehensive regional health assessment in collaboration with the Brazos Valley Health Partnership, a community-owned organization comprising health resource representatives. The survey instrument draws items from numerous respected tools to collect data appropriate for an underserved rural region. Service organizations in the area rely on the assessment to support strategic plans, grant-writing, advocacy, and learning across jurisdictions.



Since 2005, the University of Michigan PRC has conducted a biannual telephone survey, Speak to Your Health. Designed by community, health department, and university partners, the survey collects data on social determinants of health as well as behaviors and attitudes of residents in Flint, Michigan, and surrounding Genesee County. Summary tables of survey data are available online; however, to ensure proper use and analysis, raw data must be requested from the center (free of charge). From 2004–2009, researchers received more than 100 requests for data analysis from about 20 agencies and organizations. The Genesee County Health Department used the findings to develop and monitor progress of its 5-year strategic plan. In addition, results of one survey showed the limited extent of health insurance coverage in Genesee County and the high proportion of residents who needed to visit a doctor but could not afford the cost. A community group used this information to request a ballot measure to raise taxes in the county to create a health plan for residents without insurance. The measure passed in 2006, making basic health care available to nearly all of Genesee County’s uninsured, low-income adults.

Read a journal article about the development of the health coverage plan.

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