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CDC Releases Population Health Data for 500 Cities

A partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is bringing expanded public health data to 500 cities across the country.

The 500 Cities Project is an innovative statistical model that allows the CDC to use the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to create census-tract level data. The data enables communities to evaluate health on 27 metrics, tracking important health behaviors, outcomes, and prevention practices.

The project offers data on one city in each state, including nearly 28,000 census tracts and a third of the U.S. population. Previously available data sources provided more limited information at the county and metropolitan levels; the 500 Cities Project is the first such data set to be made available on a large scale for cities and small areas within cities.

In spring 2017, the CDC plans to launch an interactive website to provide easy public access to the city- and tract-level data created by the project. Users will be able to explore and download data, as well as view map books of each of the 500 included cities.

The CDC emphasizes that 500 Cities data complements existing surveillance data and can best be used to:

  • identify the health issues facing a city or neighborhoods within cities;
  • develop and implement effective and targeted prevention activities;
  • identify emerging health problems; and
  • establish and monitor key health objectives.

For essential hospitals, CDC tools  such as the 500 Cities Project data and County Health Rankings  help hospitals assess and understand community needs and tell a story about their patients and community.

In recent years, population health has entered conversations and practices throughout health care with increasing frequency. As the scope and prevalence of population health grow, Essential Hospitals Institute, the association’s research and quality improvement entity, seeks to examine and better understand population health in the communities served by members of America’s Essential Hospitals. Learn more about the association’s work in population health.

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About the Author

Brian Roberson is a senior research analyst at America's Essential Hospitals.

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