Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of this online tool?
This tool provides users with information to improve health and quality of life in their community. Arizona Health Matters hopes that community members and organizations look to this platform as a rich source of data and information about their community.
Who is the target (or intended) audience?
This information is intended for anyone interested in community health and community health data. Several audiences may find the information useful, including but not limited to, hospitals and healthcare providers, health departments, health coalitions, non-profits, city planners, policy makers, community educators, local service providers and students.
Who is this operated by?
This tool is operated as a partnership between Arizona's Fifteen County Health Departments, Arizona Department of Health Services, and Healthy Communities Institute.
How should I reference this online tool?
Recommended citation of website:
Healthy Communities Institute. (Date of publication, if available). Community Dashboard. Title of web site. Retrieved date. Retrieved from URL.
If referencing a specific data indicator:
Source or agency name. (Date/dates). Specific data source, if available (e.g. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2007). Web site name. Retrieve date. Retrieved from URL.
Can I use Healthy Communities Institute's images?
Yes. Healthy Communities Institute indicator gauges, charts, maps and other visualizations may be reproduced in publications without further permission provided that the figure is attributed as follows: Image provided by Healthy Communities Institute
Can I use Healthy Communities Institute’s logo?
The Healthy Communities Institute logo may be used in publications, web pages and marketing communications without further permission provided that the following language appears on the same page as the Healthy Communities Institute logo: "The Healthy Communities Institute logo and “gauge” graphic are trademarks of Healthy Communities Institute. Used with permission."
If the Healthy Communities Institute logo is used on a webpage, please link the image to: www.healthycommunitiesinstitute.com
Click here to download Healthy Communities Institute's logo.
How can I find out more about Healthy Communities Institute?
The Healthy Communities Institute (HCI) mission is to improve the health and environmental sustainability of cities, counties and communities worldwide. To learn more visit www.healthycommunitiesinstitute.com.
What is an indicator?
Indicators are measurable population characteristics. Health indicators can measure disease, illness, behaviors and the physical and social environment.
Where does the data come from?
The data comes from a variety of state and national sources, including the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Community Survey and many state-specific sources. Most of the data is reported on an annual basis. Each indicator page includes the source of the data and, if available, the URL of the source.
What is meant by comparison?
All indicator values are compared to another value: either the distribution of other communities, an average, a target or a prior value. The level of comparison depends on the source and methodology of the data. If the data comes from a national source collected at the county-level, your county’s value will typically be compared to a distribution of all U.S. counties or to a national average. If the data is collected at the state level, your county’s value will be compared to a distribution of all counties or county-equivalents in the state, or compared to a state average or value. If the distribution or average data is not available, your county value will typically be compared to the prior value.
What do the different colored indicator gauges mean?
Regional Comparison Indicators: The distinct green/yellow/red gauge provides a visual representation of how your community is doing compared to other communities. The local value is assigned a status (green = good, yellow = fair, red = poor) based on how that value ranks in comparison to other communities. For indicators where a high value is good, each indicator is assigned a green value if the value is higher than or equal to the 50th percentile, yellow if the value is between the 50th percentile and the 25th percentile and red if the value is lower than the 25th percentile. For indicators where a low value is good, each indicator is assigned a green value if the value is lower than the 50th percentile, yellow if the value is between the 50th percentile and the 75th percentile and red if the value is greater than the 75th percentile. The median is the cut-off between the green and yellow ranking.
Compare to Value Indicators: The blended green/yellow/red and blue/white gauges show how your county value compares with the median or mean state or U.S. value. The gauge is blue and white when being higher (or lower) is not necessarily good or bad and is multi-colored when being higher (or lower) is good or bad.
Prior Value Comparison Indicators: This icon shows how the current value compares to the previous measurement period. A green arrow means the value is improving and a red arrow means the value is getting worse. The = (equal) sign means that there is not a significant increase or decrease since the last measurement period. A blue arrow means the value being higher (or lower) is not necessarily good or bad. These indicators are typically used when distribution data is not available or when trend data seem more relevant and important as compared to other locales. This gauge is also useful to highlight when a measure compares favorably to other communities, but the measure is actually moving in the wrong direction.
Compare to Target Indicators: This icon shows whether or not your county meets a specific target. Your county value is represented by the left bar and the target value by the right bar. If your county’s value is green, the target has been met. If your county’s value is red, the target has not been met.
How is the data organized?
All of the indicators are arranged on the Community Dashboard by topic (Health, Education, Economy, etc) and subtopic (Cancer, Diabetes, Built Environment, etc). However, you can also sort indicators by status (red / yellow / green) using the “sort by” option at the top of the community dashboard.
How do I find data for a specific location?
To find data for a specific location, go to the Community Dashboard, then select your desired location. The dashboard will populate with all of the indicators for the selected location.
What are age-adjusted rates?
Age-adjustment is a statistical process applied to rates of disease or death that allows communities with different age structures to be compared. This is important because most diseases and health outcomes occur at different rates in different age groups. For example, cancer is more commonly associated with older populations.
How often is the data updated?
Many of the indicators are updated on an annual basis, although there are several indicators that are updated on a daily or monthly basis. If you see something that is out of date, please send us Feedback.
I have strong knowledge of other great data/data sources. Why aren't they included?
Healthy Communities Institute strives to provide high quality, publicly accessible data, available at the county level. Indicators were chosen based on the following criteria:
- Publicly available data (at the county level)
- Strong likelihood that the indicator will be replicated again in the future
- Validity of data source (appropriate methodology)
- Corresponding Healthy People 2020 goals
Healthy Communities Institute is always on the lookout for good new data sources. If you would like to recommend data, send us Feedback. Sending your information to us does not guarantee that we will incorporate it on the Community Dashboard.
The Community Dashboard allows you to view all available indicators for a particular region and view them by topic or by status (red / yellow / green). Explore what data is available by selecting an option from ‘Location Type’ and a corresponding ‘Location.’
This tool allows you to view indicator breakout information such as age, gender, race/ethnicity. The Disparities Dashboard is organized by primary category (health, education, public safety) and then sub-categories (cancer, diabetes, school environment, crime).
The Demographics page provides demographic information of your community. Examples of demographic information include population size, age structure, racial and ethnic composition, population growth, and density. Healthy Communities Institute uses two main sources:
- US Census Bureau, Quick Facts: basic demographic information at the state and county level.
- Nielsen Claritas: provides demographic data elements on population, housing, economic, education, transportation, and occupation characteristics of your community. Data is available at the county and zip code.
Healthy People 2020 Tracker
Healthy People provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. The 2020 Tracker compares your community’s health to the national objectives and whether or not your community has met the objectives or not. To learn more, visit the 2020 Tracker.
What is a promising practice?
Promising practices are best practices related to health or quality of life that have been found to be useful in improving the health of a community in some way. Healthy Communities Institute has identified a wealth of promising practices from around the country and internationally. They are a helpful way to identify strategies for making improvements in your community without reinventing the wheel. Healthy Communities Institute makes distinctions between practices that have been thoroughly and scientifically reviewed (Evidence Based) from those that have undergone less rigorous (Effective Practice), or perhaps no evaluation (Good Idea). See Promising Practices.
How to submit a promising practice:
You may choose to add your own local Promising Practice so that users can see what programs have been implemented locally. Before submitting a promising practice, please review our Guidelines for Submitting Promising Practices, which can be found on the Promising Practices homepage.
Report Assistant: This tool can be used to run a customized report that will contain content based on keywords or topics of interest you have selected and can either save or share with others.
Indicator Comparison Report: This tool allows you to view multiple indicators at a time, which could be useful if you are focusing on a particular topic area and would like to view various indicators related to that particular topic area side by side. You can also use this tool to view a single indicator across multiple locations such as county, census tract and zip code.
The Report Center is a repository of published reports, web content, fact sheets, planning documents, etc. maintained by Arizona Health Matters.
How can I report a broken link or other technical issue?
You can submit your issue here. Your feedback is very important to us.