Healthy Alaskans 2030 launches in January 2020. How do the Leading Health Indicators get chosen?
When your car starts making a weird noise, how do you determine what the problems are? You first see what warning lights show up, then you might pop the hood and investigate further based on what you see. Those warning lights or indicators of your car’s well-being are similar to the Leading Health Indicators that the Healthy Alaskans project uses to measure the state’s health as a whole.
Every decade, the Healthy Alaskans project chooses a certain number of health and social issues to monitor across the state. These issues are known as leading health indicators (LHI) and are the focus for tracking data and creating health improvement plans and programs. So how do certain health issues get chosen? And why are some chosen over the others?
To choose, vote on, and prioritize the LHI for the next decade, the Healthy Alaskans team has used very specific criteria. The LHIs selected:
- Must be considered crucial and understandable to a broad audience. It should be clear why that indicator was considered a priority for the decade.
- Must be measured by accurate and reliable data. This means data that comes from established sources, such as the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System or the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
- Address health disparities across all population groups (e.g., racial, socioeconomic, or gender groups).
- Address issues that are preventable and/or could be improved.
- Relevant and necessary based on the state’s current needs. These needs are determined with the community input, a current Statewide Health Assessment and Community Capacity Review or Public Health Assessment.
The LHIs need to cover a wide range of health issues, yet still be manageable to monitor. They must be challenging, yet able to have improvements over the decade.
Similar to when deciding what warning lights or noises are important and what aren’t with your car, the Healthy Alaskans team works with many partners to review top health issues, prioritize them and determine which one to address for the next decade.
Based on expert recommendations and current trends in the data, the advisory team worked to make a short and well-rounded list. In HA2020 there was 25 total of indicators. The team prioritized LHIs that have downward trends, that are easily actionable, or that are new concerns for the decade.
And of course, whether it be with your car or health, once you understand the problems, that’s when you can begin to address them. For Healthy Alaskans 2030 LHIs, this preliminary work has been done and the team is working toward setting target setting and development of improvement strategies.
To read more about the 2020 LHIs or the preliminary information used to choose 2030 LHIs, click here.