Community Profiling / Health Planning
The socioeconomic status of a community is a powerful determinant of health outcomes. Research has shown that variations in population health status is often associated to differences in age, social class, marital status, employment, education, and lifestyle choices among the different population groups. A "Community Health Profile" reports the health status of a community. It provides an in-depth description of the people who live in the community and their social, demographic, economic, and environmental circumstances. Community health profiles are crucial to, and have important implications for, public health agencies because they focus attention on population groups that are most at risk and their potential risk factors.
A Community Health Profile should address the following questions:
- How healthy is our community?
- What do we need to be healthier?
- What do we need to stay healthy?
- How can we make this happen?
- What are the best ways to accomplish these goals?
Many different factors affect the health of a community. A few typical determinants and surrogate measures of community health are as follows:
- size and age of the population
- life expectancy
- unemployment level
- level of education
- environmental quality
- access to health care
For examples of a Community Health Report, please see the
Vital Statistics & Health Planning Reports page.
Health planning is a method that assesses the health needs of a geographic area or population, to determine how these needs can be met in the more effective and economic manner. Health planning, at minimum, requires the integration of community health profiles and geographic information systems products. It is the interpretation of these, along with policy development and analysis of alternative data sources, such as marketing data, that allows a community to determine its health status, resource allocation, and evaluation of programs. Ideally, the health planning process is objective and is driven by technical considerations. Public health must rely on planning to ensure its viability in the future.
The Office of Health Information and Policy strives to assist district health planners, epidemiologists, program developers, and evaluators best assess the needs of their target population. This is accomplished by providing quality data, technical planning assistance, GIS products, and on-going research on best practices.
The District Health Planning Training Manual is a guide to using data to make programmatic decisions. This document assists users of the Planning Information Report by providing step-by-step processes and templates. Used for planning, identifying target populations, and interpreting standard mortality ratios.