Neighborhoods and Health: Building Evidence for Local Policy. Issues and Recommendations

05/01/2003

Our final aim was to draw on the results of our studies (and other sources to a limited extent) to offer guidance for the future of the field. We do this both with respect to technical aspects (potential for the development and use of neighborhood level data in health research) and, less extensively, policy development.

The first task was to explore the potentials for expanding the scope and extent of health-relevant data that is available at the neighborhood level in America's communities. To do this, we both review the experiences of the NNIP partners in this study and scan prior literature on the range of possible data sources available. We examine the problems the partners faced in expanding their data sets in these areas, how they tried to address these problems, and broader steps that might be taken (by governments at different levels and other institutions, as well as NNIP-type intermediaries) to substantially expand the local availability of data of this type.

Finally, we consider contributions to local policy making. The most important source for this is the evidence in Part 1 on what has happened to this point in response to the site-specific studies in each city, and what discussions with NNIP partners and other local leaders suggest may happen in follow-up activities regarding these issues in the future. We draw on these descriptions and other experiences (in NNIP sites and elsewhere) in suggesting lessons for the effective use of neighborhood level data in health policy and program design.

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