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New website with neighborhood-level health data helps researchers identify and address health disparities

July 10, 2019

HealthDat website

HealthDAT data utilized for student project on diabetes-related deaths in San Diego County. Darker colors indicate evidence of health disparities and higher rates of diabetes in specific areas the county.

HealthDAT, a new website created as part of a close collaboration between the UC San Diego Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute (ACTRI) and the Institute for Public Health at San Diego State University (SDSU), offers new opportunities to improve health care and identify unmet needs that can be addressed by our local research community. The informatics platform provides neighborhood-specific data based on ZIP code about the health and well-being of residents in San Diego County across 40 different health indicators, including cancer, diabetes and asthma. HealthDAT is a powerful tool that can be used by the public as well as community agencies, clinics and academic researchers to identify unmet needs, promote research and disseminate best practices. When queried, detailed information on children and adults are displayed using interactive maps, graphs, and information on data sources. The website also provides local community resources and helps researchers connect with community partners to address healthcare issues.&

One major goal of the website is to improve access to data by health researchers who can now identify health disparities across the region using its color coded data visualization tool. For example, UC San Diego Public Health undergraduate students, Jason Chua and Kayla Carillo, were among the first researchers to take advantage of this robust data collection, receiving a first place award for their research efforts. Chua and Carillo used HealthDAT for their capstone project. The students were able to correlate a relationship between diabetes-related deaths and health insurance coverage in San Diego. Chua stated, "By using the different filters on and the visual map of San Diego (our favorite feature), we were able to see how different regions were disproportionally affected". Professor Leas added, "In this setting, HealthDAT is an incredibly valuable tool because it provides high quality data for students to address a health research topic and also links the project to health issues that are close to home here in San Diego".

Other users include community-based health organizations leaders and disease-specific patient advocacy groups. The site provides health statistics coupled with evidence-based practices known to improve them. Lists of researchers in various fields of health-related research will also be provided in the near future, which will allow community leaders and researchers ample opportunity to connect on their shared interests for researching and improving health disparities found in San Diego communities. Until this next phase is complete, researchers and community leaders are encouraged to visit and peruse and reach out to SDSU's Institute for Public Health and UCSD's ACTRI for any assistance.