Data & Benchmarks
Community health assessments typically use both primary and secondary data to characterize the health of the community:
- Primary data are collected first-hand through surveys, listening sessions, interviews, and observations
- Secondary data are collected by another entity or for another purpose
- Indicators are secondary data that have been analyzed and can be used to compare rates or trends of priority community health outcomes and determinants
Data and indicator analyses provide descriptive information on demographic and socioeconomic characteristics; they can be used to monitor progress and determine whether actions have the desired effect. They also characterize important parts of health status and health determinants, such as behavior, social and physical environments, and healthcare use.
Community health assessment indicators should be
- Methodologically sound (valid, reliable, and collected over time)
- Feasible (available or collectable)
- Meaningful (relevant, actionable, and ideally, linked to evidence-based interventions)
- Important (linked to significant disease burden or disparity in the target community)
Jurisdictions should consider using data and indicators for the smallest geographic locations possible (e.g., county-, census block-, or zip code-level data), to enhance the identification of local assets and gaps.
Sources of community-level indicators that have been benchmarked within states or among peers
County Health Rankings and RoadmapsExternal
The annual Rankings measure vital health factors, including high school graduation rates, obesity, smoking, unemployment, access to healthy foods, the quality of air and water, income inequality, and teen births in nearly every county in America. They provide a snapshot of how health is influenced by where we live, learn, work and play.
Prevention Status Reports (PSRs)
The PSRs highlight—for all 50 states and the District of Columbia—the status of public health policies and practices designed to prevent or reduce important public health problems.
Sources of community-level indicators
Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
The world’s largest, ongoing telephone health survey system, tracking health conditions and risk behaviors in the United States yearly since 1984. Data are collected monthly in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and Guam. The Selected Metropolitan/ Micropolitan Area Risk Trends project was an outgrowth of BRFSS from the increasing number of respondents who made it possible to produce prevalence estimates for smaller statistical areas.
Databases using a rich ad-hoc query system for the analysis of public health data. Reports and other query systems are also available.
Center for Applied Research and Environmental SystemsExternal
Create customized interactive maps from a wide range of economic, demographic, physical and cultural data. Access a suite of analysis tools and maps for specialized topics.
Interactive mapping, networking, and learning utility for the broad-based healthy, sustainable, and livable communities’ movement.
Dartmouth Atlas of Health CareExternal
Documented variations in how medical resources are distributed and used in the United States. Medicare data used to provide information and analysis about national, regional, and local markets, as well as hospitals and their affiliated physicians.
Disability and Health Data System
Interactive system that quickly helps translate state-level, disability-specific data into valuable public health information.
Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention’s Data Trends & Maps
View health indicators related to heart disease and stroke prevention by location or health indicator.
National Health Indicators WarehouseExternal
Indicators categorized by topic, geography, and initiative.
- US Census American FactfinderExternal
Key source for population, housing, economic, and geographic information.
US Food Environment AtlasExternal
Assembled statistics on food environment indicators to stimulate research on the determinants of food choices and diet quality, and to provide a spatial overview of a community’s ability to access healthy food and its success in doing so.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Research and Data ClearinghouseExternal
Research, statistics, data, and systems.
Environmental Public Health Tracking Network
System of integrated health, exposure, and hazard information and data from a variety of national, state, and city sources.
Health Research and Services Administration Data WarehouseExternal
Research, statistics, data, and systems.
Healthy People 2020 Leading Health IndicatorsExternal
Twenty-six leading health indicators organized under 12 topics.
Profiles the status of children on a national and state-by-state basis and ranks states on 10 measures of well-being; includes a mobile siteExternal.
National Center for Health Statistics
Statistical information to guide actions and policies.
Pregnancy Risk Assessment and Monitoring System
State-specific, population-based data on maternal attitudes and experiences before, during, and shortly after pregnancy.
Quick Health Data Online (HHS Office of Women’s Health)External
Interactive system with reliable and easily accessible health data to help assess needs, develop programs, and inform policies.
Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS)
Interactive database system with customized reports of injury-related data.
Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System
Monitors six types of health-risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth and adults.
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