Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Utah Health Improvement Index: A New Tool to Advance Health Equity

Developed by the Utah Department of Health (UDOH), the Utah Health Improvement Index (HII) is a measure of health equity. It includes nine indicators that describe important aspects of demographics, socioeconomic deprivation, economic inequality, resource availability, and opportunity structure.

Those indicators are:
Population aged ≥25 years with <9 years of education, %
Population aged ≥25 years with at least a high school diploma, %
Median family income, $
Income disparity
Owner-occupied housing units, % (home ownership rate)
Civilian labor force population aged ≥16 years unemployed, % (unemployment rate)
Families below poverty level, %
Population below 150% of the poverty threshold, %
Single-parent households with children aged <18 years, %

The HII is based on Utah Small Areas (geographic areas based on ZIP codes, local health districts, county boundaries, and input from local community representatives). The new small areas were released by UDOH in October 2018. There are 99 small areas in Utah. 

The 99 small areas are categorized into five groups: very low (20 areas), low (25), average (18), high (20), and very high (16) health improvement areas. The HII ranks from 71.89 to 160.87.  The higher the ranking, the more improvements the area needs.

This classification can be used as a guide to determine the type of intervention to implement in order to advance health equity and reduce, in an efficient and effective way, the burden of diseases and health conditions in specific geographic areas.

The HII is the result of a collaboration project between the Office of Health Disparities and the Bureau of Health Promotion. More information about the HII and its practical applications will be available soon. 

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