Forum Session

Community Health: Seeing the Big Picture by Measuring Health and Its Many Determinants
July 17, 2015


Jennifer Jenson, MPH, MPP


To improve it, you need to measure it, and the health of a community is no exception. Effective strategies for improving community health include measuring the many things that contribute to health and well-being, such as health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and the physical environment. Quantifying these factors, organizing the data, and presenting the most important information in an intuitive way can help policymakers identify priority needs and opportunities for improvement. But it's a challenge to see the big picture from the details. Programs such as the County Health Rankings have created summary measures of community health using available data on health factors and outcomes, and the Institute of Medicine recently proposed a set of 15 core measures to help focus community and policy activities. This Forum session considered the potential and challenges of these and other holistic approaches to measure community health, as well as the federal role in these efforts.


Introduction by Jennifer Jenson, MPH, MPP, principal policy analyst with the Forum

Bridget Booske Catlin, PhD, MHSA (bio)
Senior Scientist, Population Health Institute, University of Wisconsin

Shawna L. Mercer, PhD, MSc (bio)
Chief, The Community Guide Branch, Division of Public Health Information Dissemination, Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services, Office of Public Health Scientific Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Amy Rohling McGee, MSW (bio)
President, Health Policy Institute of Ohio

Nick Macchione, MPH, FACHE (bio)
Director and Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, Health and Human Services Agency, County of San Diego

Related Materials

Institute of Medicine, Vital Signs: Core Metrics for Health and Health Care Progress, 2015, The National Academies Press

America’s Health Rankings home page

County Health Rankings home page

Community Health Status Indicators home page

Ohio Health Value Dashboard resource page

Find information about Live Well San Diego at the San Diego County website, and the project website

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