Availability of Data to Measure Disparities in Leading Health Indicators at the State and Local Levels

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice
Vol. 14, No. 6
November 2008
Gold, M., Dodd, A.H., and M. Neuman
pp. S36-44

Objectives: Healthy People 2010 identifies the elimination of health disparities as a critical national goal. The article analyzes the availability of state and local data to support this work.

Methods: We assessed data availability for the 10 leading health indicators (LHIs), comprising a set of 26 measures. Our analysis is based on a mid-2007 review of federal and state Web sites.

Findings: Federal data sources allow aggregate state estimates for 24 LHI measures, although some either are not available for all states or vary from the federal definition. National sources capture some but not all of the subgroup characteristics, defined as national disparities priorities. Limited sample size is a barrier to generating state estimates for specific subgroups, and data by geographic subdivision within a state are often lacking. States also vary in how aggressively they use disparities data or make them available externally.

Conclusions: Federal leadership has been critical to state capacity to assess LHI disparities. Although some relevant state-level disparities data exist, major gaps remain, local estimates are limited, and some states make better use of the data than others. Continued federal leadership and support is critical to states' abilities to address Healthy People 2010's disparities goal.

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