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Frequently Asked Questions

Purpose

Why were the Prevention Status Reports (PSRs) developed?
The reports were designed to highlight—for all 50 states and the District of Columbia—the status of policies and practices designed to prevent or reduce 10 of the nation's most important health problems.

Although information about state public health policies and practices is publicly available, the sources of this information are widely dispersed and can be difficult to use. The PSRs organize this information in a simple, easy-to-use format that enables public health professionals, community leaders, and policy makers to better understand their state's status and identify areas for improvement.

Selection Criteria

How were the PSR health topics selected?
The 10 health topics were selected for inclusion in the PSRs because—

  • They reflect current public health challenges and leading causes of death and disability
  • They align with public health priorities and national initiatives, such as CDC's Winnable Battles
  • Solutions drawn from scientific evidence and/or expert recommendations are available to address these public health challenges

How were the policies and practices for each health topic selected?
The policies and practices were selected for inclusion in the PSRs because they—

  • Can be monitored using state-level data that are readily available for most states and the District of Columbia
  • Meet one or more of the following criteria:
Systematic Review Supported by systematic review(s) of scientific evidence of effectiveness (e.g., The Guide to Community Preventive Services )
National Strategy Explicitly cited in a national strategy or national action plan (e.g., Healthy People 2020 )
Expert Panel Recommended by a recognized expert body, panel, organization, study, or report with an evidence-based focus (e.g., Institute of Medicine)

Does the number of policies and practices in a PSR topic signify that topic's level of importance?
No, the number of policies and practices included in a topic does not signify level of importance for a particular topic. The policies and practices selected for each topic were those that met the inclusion criteria identified above.

There are other evidence-based public health policies and practices that aren't included in the PSRs. Why weren't these included?
The PSRs are designed to highlight the status of select policies and practices in a state for each topic. This requires that data are available on the enactment of a policy or implementation of a practice and that these data are in a form that enables a state rating. Therefore, the PSRs exclude policies and practices if there are no state-based data collection systems and/or data are missing for most states.

Where can I find more information about the science and evidence base that supports these policies and practices?
Although the PSRs do not provide a comprehensive analysis of the science or expert recommendations behind the policies and practices, the reports do reference the sources supporting each policy and practice. Users wishing to explore the evidence-base behind the PSR policies and practices can access these hyperlinked references for more information.

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Ratings

What do the ratings mean?
The PSRs use a simple, three-level rating scale—green, yellow, or red—to show the extent to which the state has implemented the policy or practice in accordance with supporting evidence and/or expert recommendations. The specific green, yellow, and red rating criteria for each policy or practice are outlined in their respective rating scales.

How were the specific rating criteria determined for each policy or practice?
CDC subject matter experts determined rating categories by considering 1) the distribution of state data, 2) science regarding effectiveness of the policy or practice, and/or 3) expert recommendations regarding implementation of the policy or practice.

How were the specific ratings determined for each state?
CDC subject matter experts applied the defined rating criteria to state-specific data collected for each policy and practice. Additional detail on the rating process can be found under "How This Rating Was Determined" for each policy/practice.

Do the ratings reflect states' efforts to address these public health problems or concerns?
It is important to note that the ratings in the PSRs reflect the status of policies and practices at a given point in time and do not reflect the status of efforts to establish or strengthen policies or practices in a given state.

Why don't the PSRs show how the states rank or compare with one another?
The PSRs are not designed for comparisons across states but rather are helpful in periodically tracking each state's status against a select set of policies and practices supported by systematic scientific reviews, aligned with national action plans or strategies, and/or recommended by national expert bodies. Variations from state to state in public health priorities, disease burden, resources, and challenges make state-by-state comparisons complex and inappropriate.

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Changes Since 2013

How are the 2015 PSRs different from the 2013 PSRs?

  • The total number of policy/practice indicators increased from 28 in 2013 to 33 in 2015, including
    • 11 new indicators across 5 topics (Food Safety; Healthcare-Associated Infections; HIV; Motor Vehicle Injuries; and Prescription Drug Overdose)
    • 6 dropped indicators across 5 topics (Alcohol-Related Harms; Healthcare-Associated Infections; Motor Vehicle Injuries; Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity; and Prescription Drug Overdose)
  • 5 indicators were revised across 3 topics (HIV; Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity; and Tobacco Use)
  • The 2015 PSRs are presented as an interactive web page rather than as individual stand-alone reports

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Using the PSRs

How can the PSRs be used to improve public health policies and practices?
Below are some of the primary ways the PSRs can be used to improve public health policies and practices:

  • Assess a state's status: Review PSR ratings to assess a state's performance within the local context (i.e., consider PSR ratings in conjunction with additional state data and information about facilitators and barriers).
  • Communicate with partners and constituents: Foster dialogue with internal or external partners (e.g., co-workers, coalitions, community-based organizations, private businesses) about public health problems and solutions.
  • Educate decision makers: Inform decision makers (e.g., elected officials, public health leaders, community leaders) about public health problems and solutions.
  • Plan and set priorities: Identify public health policy and practice solutions across a range of public health topics, or within a specific topic of interest.
  • Improve existing policies or practices: Influence the direction of existing programs or policy initiatives with the intent of improving PSR ratings, and, ultimately, public health.
  • Implement new policies or practices: Influence the development of new programs or policy initiatives with the intent of improving PSR ratings, and, ultimately, public health.

For additional guidance on using PSRs, see the PSR Quick Start Guide.

Who is responsible for improving the health policies and practices in each state?
Improving each state's health policies and practices is the shared responsibility of many sectors: government agencies, state legislatures and regulatory bodies, healthcare organizations, health coalitions, businesses, and individual citizens. Public health agencies are essential contributors, but they alone cannot solve the nation's most pressing public health problems without the participation of key decision makers in many sectors of society.

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Topic-Specific Questions

In the Healthcare-Associated Infections report, for the chart titled, "2013 Standardized Infection Ratios (SIRs) Compared to National SIRs, HHS Action Plan Targets, and National Baseline," what is meant by the term "national baseline" and what is its relationship to the SIR?
The national baseline is aggregated healthcare-associated infection (HAI) data reported to the National Healthcare Safety Network during a historical baseline period used to calculate the number of HAIs predicted to occur nationally or within a healthcare facility or state. The SIR is a summary statistic that can be used to track HAI prevention progress over time. The SIR compares the reported number of HAIs to the predicted number of HAIs based on the national baseline at the facility, state, or national level. An SIR greater than 1 means that more HAIs were reported than the number of HAIs predicted. An SIR of 1 means that the number of HAIs reported and predicted are similar. An SIR less than 1 means that fewer HAIs were reported than the number predicted. For additional information about the SIR, visit CDC's Healthcare-associated Infection Progress Report: Questions and Answers.

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Suggested Citations

What is the citation for the Prevention Status Reports?

For a state report:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevention Status Reports: [State name]. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2016. Accessed [month date, year].

For the National Summary:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevention Status Reports: National Summary. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2016. Accessed [month date, year].

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Printing

How can I print a formatted report for one topic for a single state?
From the PSRs by State page, select a state and then select a health topic (e.g., select "North Carolina" then select "Alcohol-Related Harms"). Below and to the right of the topic name, find and click the "Print Topic" button. A formatted report for that state and topic will be generated. You can then print this report, or you can save it by printing to your web browser's PDF writer if your browser supports PDF creation. If your browser lacks this support, many PDF add-ons and extensions are available for free online.

How can I print a state summary?
From the PSRs by State page, select a state. Find and click the "Print Summary" button below and to the right of "State Summary." A formatted summary for that state will be generated. You can then print the summary, or you can save it by printing to your web browser's PDF writer if your browser supports PDF creation. If your browser lacks this support, many PDF add-ons and extensions are available for free online.

How can I customize the headers and footers on my printed report or PDF (for example, to include page numbers)?
You can add page numbers to the headers or footers of your printout or PDF by adjusting your web browser’s page setup print options. You can also add or delete other information in the headers or footers, including the report title, URL, and date printed.

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