Chris Ringewald: CHIS data, GIS, combine to power advocacy for health equity

[ Posted on April 28th, 2011 by Chris Ringewald | No Comments » ]

RAISING AWARENESS OF HEALTH DISPARITIES: Chris Ringewald, senior research analyst for Healthy City, writes about how his GIS project and CPEHN relied upon CHIS data to increase awareness and action around health disparities in the state:

When the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN), the only statewide multicultural organization leading the fight for health equity, wanted to advance its strategic goal of increasing public awareness and action around statewide health disparities, it turned to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and Healthy City

Healthy City, the GIS project of the Advancement Project, relied upon California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) data in its work to meet that goal.

The work included researching and developing a report and an online mapping application. CPEHN’s biannual report, The Landscape of Opportunity: Cultivating Health Equity in California, presents a comprehensive picture of health, including the factors that affect the health of Californians. CPEHN’s policy recommendations point the way toward a broader understanding of health statewide. The accompanying web-mapping application, “Mapping the Landscape of Opportunity,”gives users a chance to view and identify patterns in health data that disproportionately impact racial/ethnic groups across California. CHIS data werecentral in developing both the report and mapping application, in part because so few data sources attempt to address the complex social, environmental, economic and other factors that impact the health of communities. The mapping application features CHIS data about the natural and built environment, neighborhood safety and cohesion, health care systems and health conditions. The data are available at the county, California region and statewide levels for easy comparison across geographies.

The Landscape of Opportunity focuses on viewing social determinants of health alongside communities of color, so readers can see racial disparities in health outcomes where they exist. For example, according to 2007 CHIS data, American Indian/Alaska Native and Black/African American populations had much higher rates of asthma than do Asian and Hispanic populations. Through the use of CHIS data, the report provides important and timely recommendations related to socioeconomic, environmental, safety and health system factors related to California state health. The web-based interactive mapping tool enables policymakers and the public to view detailed information of the health of California.

In the end, CHIS data, combined with GIS analysis and visualization was a critical component of CPEHN’s advocacy for health equity.

Suggested Resources:
California Pan Ethnic Health Network
California Health Interview Survey

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Chris Ringewald

Chris Ringewald, MA, is a senior research analyst with Healthy City. He worked previously for the National Park Service's Inventory & Monitoring Program in South Florida. He has a bachelor’s degree in art history and a master’s degree in regional planning from Cornell University.

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