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The blog of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine Evaluation Office

Archive for March, 2015

Updated Community Health Status Indicators (CHSI)

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Peer county mapsThe OERC is excited to get the word out about the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s newly updated and redesigned Community Health Status Indicators (CHSI).  The new CHSI 2015 represents the collaboration of public health partners in the public, non-profit and research communities, including the National Library of Medicine.

The OERC recommends the CHSI as a possible resource in the data gathering portion of planning outreach projects or needs assessments. CHSI 2015 is an interactive online tool that produces health profiles for all 3,143 counties in the United States. Each profile includes key indicators of health outcomes that describe the population health status of a county. What makes CHSI 2015 an important tool is that it includes comparisons to “peer counties” – groups of counties that are similar to each other based on 19 variables, including population size, percent high school graduates and household income.

CHSI Summary Comparison ReportFor each county, CHSI 2015 provides a Summary Comparison Report.  Using Karen Vargas’ childhood home of Union County, PA as an example, this report (right) shows that in the case of the overall cancer death rate, Union County does better than most of its peer counties.  But in the case of stroke death rate, they do worse.

Distribution Display – bar chartsBy selecting a specific indicator, such as coronary heart disease death rate, the interactive CHSI 2015 will produce a bar chart showing Union County in comparison to its peer counties, as well as the US median and the Healthy People 2020 target (left).

More detailed, downloadable data for each peer county can also be found (below), as well as a web page detailing the sources of the data for each indicator. CHSI 2015 provides a helpful How to use CHSI web page that explains each feature and provides helpful hints.

Distribution data in a downloadable format

CHSI 2015 is designed to complement other available sources of community health indicators including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s County Health Rankings and Roadmaps.

Five reasons to attend the AEA Summer Institute 2015

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Registration is now open for the American Evaluation Association’s annual Summer Evaluation Institute.  The Institute, held in Atlanta, runs for 2.5 days and features 26 half-day training sessions.   Here are five reasons I make a point of attending this Institute every year.

  • Great instructors. The training is offered by some of the most experienced evaluators in the field.
  • A continuing education bargain. Training costs about $80-90 per half-day session, less for students.
  • CDC presence. Historically, AEA co-sponsored this annual event with Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  While the CDC no longer co-sponsors the Institute, you will meet lots of CDC staff members and consultants.
  • Networking opportunities. Between lunch and breaks, you get eight opportunities to chat with your colleagues.
  • Great location. The Institute is held at the Crown Plaza Atlanta Perimeter at Ravinia, located in a park-like setting on Atlanta’s perimeter near shopping and restaurants. The hotel is on the MARTA (mass transit) red line, so you can get from the airport to the hotel without facing Atlanta’s legendary traffic. Because I live near Atlanta, I haven’t stayed in the hotel; but I’ve never heard any complaints.

Full-day pre-Institute workshops are held, for an additional charge, on the Sunday before the Institute. You can attend pre-conference sessions without registering for the Institute itself.  For example, beginners might want to take “Introduction to Evaluation” taught by Tom Chapel, the Chief Evaluation Officer at the CDC. Chapel organizes the workshop around the CDC’s six-step framework for program evaluation.

The AEA Institute 2015 runs June 1-3, with pre-session workshops conducted on May 31. The cost for the Institute is $395 for members and $480 for nonmembers, with a special student rate of $250. The price covers five training sessions (your choice among the 26 offerings), snacks, and lunch.  Pre-Institute workshops are an additional $150 (all participants).

AEA Summer Institute Home Page

What Shapes Health? A Story about Data Visualization

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Medicaid birth map 2006-08

It was an amazing a-ha moment. We kind of blinked at each other, and then simultaneously said ‘We got to do something.’ – Dr. Nancy Hardt, University of Florida

This week on National Public Radio’s (NPR) All Things Considered was a story of what happened when Dr. Nancy Hardt, an OB-GYN, used data from Medicaid birth records to see where children were born into poverty in Gainesville, FL to try and identify ways to intervene and prevent poor childhood health outcomes. She was surprised to see a 1 square mile high-density ‘hot spot’ of births in dark blue appear in her map above. Dr. Hardt was encouraged to share her map with Sheriff Sadie Darnell, who pulled out a map of her own of Gainesville.

Sheriff Darnell’s map showed an exact overlay with the ‘hot spot’ on Dr. Hardt’s map of the highest crime rates in the city. By visiting the area they identified many things in the community that were barriers to good health including hunger, substandard housing, and a lack of medical care facilities – the closest location for uninsured patients was a 2 hour bus ride each way to the county health department. You’ll want to check out the rest of A Sheriff and A Doctor Team Up to Map Childhood Trauma to learn more about a mobile health clinic, what data from additional maps showed, and other steps they have taken since to help improve health outcomes for the community.

This story is the latest from the NPR series What Shapes Health, which was inspired in response to a recent Robert Wood Johnson Foundation poll about what beliefs and concerns Americans have regarding health. You can read an overview and download the full report of their results at http://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2015/01/what-shapes-health.html.

OERC’s Tools and Resources for Evaluation Guide

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Data Dashboard Example

Have you ever found yourself trying to do an evaluation activity, but needing that one helpful tool? Or perhaps you need a step-by-step guide on how to do a community assessment, or are looking for ways to build evaluation into a project that you are planning?

The OERC has an online guide called Tools and Resources for Evaluation that you and your library can use to evaluate your programs. Here are some of the types of tools and resources described in the Guide.

Community Oriented Outreach

  • Tips on successful collaborations and tools for improving collaboration with community networks
  • Toolkits for practical participatory evaluation and processes for conducting outcome-based evaluations

Evaluation Planning

  • Step-by-step guides on incorporating evaluation planning into your outreach projects
  • Instructions on using logic models for program planning

Data Collection and Analysis

  • Tips for questionnaire development
  • Resources for statistical methods of data analysis
  • Guides for analyzing qualitative and quantitative data

Reporting and Visualizing

  • Help with creating popular data dashboards
  • Descriptions of data visualization methods
  • Tools and TEDtalks about how you will present your data

Last updated on Monday, June 27, 2016

Funded by the National Library of Medicine under Contract No. UG4LM012343 with the University of Washington.