242857 Connecticut Local Health Departments' Application of GIS to Measure and Map Social Determinants of Health

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 8:50 AM

Otis Pitts, JD, MPH , Health Equity Alliance, Connecticut Association of Directors of Health, Hartford, CT
Significant research has detailed the geographic-specific nature of social determinants of health for populations living in economically depressed, environmentally burdened, and unsafe areas. To strengthen the linkage between such social epidemiology-inspired theories regarding the root causes of poor health and local public health practice, the Connecticut Association of Directors of Health constructed an analytical tool called the Health Equity Index that utilizes GIS technology to help assess and conceptualize the relationships between social determinants of health and disparate health outcomes in Connecticut communities. Due to significant advances in mapping technology and countless sources of data, health departments can now begin to tackle issues once identified as insurmountable. Additionally, advancements in GIS have made it relatively straightforward for public health practitioners to take advantage of maps in project planning, resource allocation, and community activism. During the past two years, three Connecticut local health departments including New Haven, Hartford, and the Ledge Light Health District have piloted the GIS-based instrument to promote health equity within their neighborhoods. The proposed presentation will highlight how these local health departments have used the Index to guide their local investigations and for prioritization of intervention activities: New Haven has used the Index to inform its research around the public health implications of urban violence; Ledge Light Health District has used the tool to investigate trends in teen pregnancy; and Hartford has used the instrument to identify health needs within the city and to promote policies that support and improve its public health environment.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Communication and informatics
Program planning
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1) Describe at least one local application of GIS mapping at the local level designed to address racial and ethnic disparities in health. 2) Identify other applications of GIS mapping by a local health department such as strategic planning, policy development, advocacy efforts, and community assessment. 3) Explain how the local public health community can be a more active partner in collaborations with the research community to identify practical and appropriate measures for both health outcomes and social determinant of health indicators.

Keywords: Geographic Information Systems, Social Inequalities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I assist local health departments in their application of the Health Equity Index to address health inequities in Connecticut communities.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.