Advancing Community Preventive Services

Assessing interventions that affect health and developing an online resource for decision-makers

Dates of Project: April 15, 2012 to July 14, 2014

Description: A team led by researchers at HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research created an online tool to help decision-makers evaluate how community interventions to reduce smoking and increase physical activity are likely to affect health outcomes and medical costs in their jurisdictions specifically, factoring in localized data on demographics and other characteristics.

HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research is an arm of the nonprofit HealthPartners health care system headquartered in Bloomington, Minn.

The interactive online Community Health Advisor tool is the first of its kind, according to Michael V. Maciosek, PhD, the project director. Other models have been used to analyze impacts on specific communities but not to enable any user to quickly generate data on any county. “I don’t think anyone has done that.”

Key Results

In July 2014 the team launched an interactive website tool that evaluates how community-level approaches to reduce smoking and increase physical activity are likely to affect health outcomes and costs in each of the nation’s 3,000-plus counties as well as in each state and the nation as a whole.

Titled Community Health Advisor (www.communityhealthadvisor.org), the public website provides impact analyses for each of 11 approaches—six aimed at smoking cessation (increasing tobacco taxes, for example) and five at encouraging physical activity (such as enhancing school physical education curricula and providing activity options in the workplace).

Users learn how the interventions will impact a jurisdiction on three measures over 10 years: disease prevalence, disease prevention, and medical care costs. The tool can also provide more detailed outcomes projected over 30 years and break down the results by gender, age group, and race/ethnicity.