The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) promotes and protects the health of Arizona’s children and adults. Its mission is to set the standard for personal and community health through direct care, science, public policy, and leadership.
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The Department operates programs in behavioral health, disease prevention and control, health promotion, community public health, environmental health, maternal and child health, emergency preparedness and regulation of childcare and assisted living centers, nursing homes, hospitals, other health care providers and emergency services.
When it comes to collecting and disseminating information, population density plays a large part in how the Department is able to highlight significant trends in the program areas and fulfil its role in terms of community profiling. For instance, 60 per cent of the population lives in one county which means that other counties are sparsely populated – presenting a significant challenge for any organisation that wants to show detailed analysis at anything below county level.
This issue was of concern when it came to monitoring cancer rates. Until recently, the state-collected cancer data was not complete enough to look at rates on a relatively small geographic scale, limiting analysis to the county level only.
We spoke to Wesley Korteum, GIS Coordinator at Arizona Department of Health Services to find out more about how the Department now presents its data. He says that the graphical depiction of information about communities is an important element of their work and they have managed to overcome the challenge by creating their own Community Health Analysis Area (CHAA). There are 126 CHAAs in Arizona. Each is a geographic unit developed to present data (initially rates of cancer) at a geographic scale smaller than the county level.
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