Special CDC Journal Issue Presents the Best Tools for Measuring the Health of Communities

Researchers examine alternative ways to increase the adoption of policies and programs that improve health

Press the play button to listen to MATCH Deputy Director Bridget Booske discuss the essays in this special issue of Preventing Chronic Disease.

More than 95 percent of every health care dollar in the United States today goes to treatment of disease rather than to public health programs aimed at keeping people from getting sick in the first place, according to one article in the special issue. The author of that paper argues that such a strategy is deeply flawed and should be re-oriented toward a system that rewards good health instead. Another paper considers whether “pay for performance” incentives (which have shown some signs of promise in health care) could be effective in improving population health outcomes, and a third explains how social marketing techniques could educate people about the benefits afforded by healthy behaviors such as exercising and eating healthfully. The issue contains nine essays, each considering a unique way that incentives might work to motivate community leaders to implement policies and programs shown to improve health, and two commentaries that provide insightful overviews of the topic.

A set of special essays in the September issue of Preventing Chronic Disease, a journal published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), explores a variety of techniques to motivate community leaders and others to improve the health of their residents. The set of essays was commissioned by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and as part of the Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health (MATCH) initiative, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). A key component of MATCH is the County Health Rankings, the first set of reports to rank the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states.

The articles are the second of three MATCH-commissioned sets of essays on population health topics to appear in Preventing Chronic Disease. The essays and commentaries are intended to spark a discussion about how we as a nation can create environments to protect Americans from disease and injury and increase the chances that we will all live longer, healthier lives. The first set of essays, which explored the selection and use of metrics in an effort to improve population health, appeared in the July issue. The final set of papers, which will focus on establishing partnerships to increase accountability and put public health policies in place, will be published in the November edition of the journal.