Life Course Indicators Implementation
By Jennifer Farfalla, MPH
Analyst for Quality Improvement and Life Course
In the summer of 2013, AMCHP engaged seven state teams (Florida, Iowa, Lousiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska and North Carolina) to identify and finalize a set of indicators that can be used to measure progress in maternal and child health through a life course approach. In the year that followed, AMCHP identified a number of factors that could slow the uptake of the life course indicators by state and local health departments. Limiting factors for use of the indicators include the need for analysts to use data sources or methods outside of the typical MCH field, staff time needed for analysis, and figuring out ways to interpret and communicate results of indicator analysis. In August of 2014, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, AMCHP sent out a request for applications for a Life Course Indicators Technical Assistance project. The project was designed to help states overcome barriers to analysis of the indicators and the communication of the data post-analysis.
In total, eight state teams (Alaska, Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska and Wyoming) were accepted into the project. The key components of this TA opportunity included:
- Analytic assistance in calculating a subset of the life course indicators
- Virtual learning events that focus on communicating health disparities and social equity issues, including information from leading national experts in the fields of life course, health equity and communication
- Expert consultation around communication of the implications for equity components of life course indicators
- Peer-to-peer learning network to support each other (SharePoint collaborative site, peer-to-peer sharing webinars)
- Travel funding for two team members to attend an in-person meeting to share their work and receive in-person technical assistance
- Individualized feedback to state teams to help identify key messages and design products
- Creation of at least one communications product (policy or issue brief, fact sheet, needs assessment section, etc.)
Each state put together a team of 10 multidisciplinary members from their MCH staff, internal partners, and community partners to decide on a subset of indicators, analyze data, take part in monthly learning events and peer sharing sessions, and use their indicator data to create a communications product. The teams were provided with expert communication consultation from Glynis Shea, communications director of the Konopka Institute for Best Practices in Adolescent Health.
Each state has taken on a different subset of indicators and is designing a different communications product. A brief description of the ambitious and innovative projects each state participating in this TA is currently working on is below:
- Alaska: The integration of broad partnerships into their infant mortality COIIN
- Arizona: Analysis and reporting of data on a subset of more than 20 life course indicators
- Illinois: An infographic connecting Illinois data points to social determinants of health
- Iowa: Analysis of data on the adolescent health life course indicators and a communications resource about this data for school nurses
- Louisiana: A presentation to introduce the concept of concentrated disadvantage
- Maine: A strategy for communicating their life course resources to policymakers
- Nebraska: A fact sheet focusing on the connection between concentrated disadvantage and teen pregnancy rates
- Wyoming: A communications product supporting a multisectoral approach to improving early childhood outcomes
The Life Course Intensive TA project will complete at the end of February. As states finish up these impressive projects, we hope to share some of their individual life course indicator analysis and communication success stories in future Pulse issues.