New Haven and Yale are taking steps to improve health by investigating a possible link between neighborhood assets and incidences of chronic disease.
This “health mapping” project, led by Jeannette Ickovics, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Yale School of Public Health and Director of Care (Community Alliance for Research and Engagement), aims to physically map both positive resources, such as health clinics and green spaces, and negative resources, including fast food restaurants and liquor retailers.
Using a geographic information system to create an interactive map of the community resources, New Haven residents of the Youth@Work group will plot multple local neighborhoods and survey 1,400 adults and 1,400 children, asking about diet and exercise habits, chronic disease prevalence, and other life style choices. These surveys will then be overlapped onto the “resource” map to explore potential correlative factors.
When the map is complete, Ickovics plans to have new evidence for the improvement of New Haven resident health by addressing some of the root causes of chronic disease incidence disparities. However, she stresses that the project is concerned with preventative measures rather than healthcare.
As the first city in the United States to study “health mapping,” New Haven joins global health project, Community Interventions for Health, to “act upon the urgent need to design, implement and assess cost-effective comprehensive interventions for all three risk factors (poor diet, tobacco use, lack of physical activity), adaptable to different cultures and communities.”