Constructing Within-City Neighborhood Health Rankings in Philadelphia by Using Data From the 500 Cities Project

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Prev Chronic Dis. 2021 May 13;18:E48. doi: 10.5888/pcd18.200584.


INTRODUCTION: Profound geographic disparities in health exist in many US cities. Most reporting on these disparities is based on predetermined administrative districts that may not reflect true neighborhoods. We undertook a ranking project to describe health at the neighborhood level and used Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as our case study.

METHODS: To create neighborhood health rankings, we first divided the city into neighborhoods according to groups of contiguous census tracts. Modeling our ranking methods and indicators on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Rankings, we gathered census tract-level data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 500 Cities Project and local sources and aggregated these data, as needed, to each neighborhood. We assigned composite scores and rankings for both health outcomes and health factors to each neighborhood.

RESULTS: Scores for health outcomes and health factors were highly correlated. We found clusters of neighborhoods with low rankings in Philadelphia’s northern, lower northeastern, western, and southwestern regions. We disseminated information on rankings throughout the city, including through a comprehensive webpage, public communication, and a museum exhibit.

CONCLUSION: The Philadelphia neighborhood health rankings were designed to be accessible to people unfamiliar with public health, facilitating education on drivers of health in communities. Our methods can be used as a model for other cities to create and communicate data on within-city geographic health disparities.

PMID:33988496 | DOI:10.5888/pcd18.200584