Gathering information and collecting data are critical to support understanding of the health of populations. There are various uses for local health data and information and the following resources include key information and data sources available to help address factors that affect population health, as well as prepare public health professionals.


social determinants of health

Using data to broaden our understanding of the relationship between the social determinants of health such as income, employment, or access to care and the health of population is crucial to addressing the social determinants of health and reducing health disparities.

  • Community Commons, CDC: A cross-cutting resource that includes data, tools, and stories to improve communities and inspire change.

  • County Health Rankings, University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute & Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Rankings provide a revealing snapshot of how health is influenced by where we live, learn, work and play. They provide a starting point for change in communities.

  • American Fact Finder, US Census Bureau: Source for finding population, housing, economic, and geographic data from the national to the local level.

  • My Tribal Area, US Census Bureau: Source for quick and easy access to selected statistics from the American Community Survey, which provides detailed demographic, social, economic, and housing statistics every year for the nation's communities.

  • Sources for Social Determinants of Health, CDC: Tools for understanding data on social determinants of health, such as income, educational level, and employment, can help focus efforts to improve community health.

multi-sector collaboration

Health can be influenced at the local level  and utilizing a multi-sector, coordinated approach with a diverse group of community stakeholders, organizations, and experts, whose reach impacts where residents live, work, learn, and play serves a vital role in addressing population health.

  • Practical Playbook, Duke University Medical Center, CDC, de Beaumont Foundation: Helping Public Health and Primary Care work together to improve population health.

  • Community ToolBox, Center for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas: Learn how to build a multisector collaborative.

training & education

Access free, comprehensive training and educational resources to support professional development and public health practice.  

  • CDC TRAIN, Public Health Foundation: A gateway into the TRAIN Learning Network, the most comprehensive catalog of free public health training opportunities.

  • National Coordinating Center for Public Health Training National Network of Public Health Institutes: The Center partners with 10 Regional Public Health Training Centers and 40 local performance sites to offer high-quality training, tools, and resources for thousands of professionals engaged in the critical work of advancing public health practice and improving population health.

  • CDC Learning Connection, CDC: A source for information about public health training developed by CDC, CDC partners, and other federal agencies.

strategic planning

Community health needs assessment and improvement planning is an important process designed to help understand the health status of a community and population. The process utilizes a community driven approach to gather information and collect data regarding local assets and gaps,  identify priority health issues, and develop an action plan to address the health of a community. 

stories from the field

It is important to understand evidence-based strategies that have been successful to improve population health. Access stories from the field that highlight successes in public health practice. 

  • Model Practice Database, NACCHO: A searchable Model Practices Database to help you find all of our past Model Practice Award winners.

  • Winnable Battles, CDC: Winnable Battles are public health priorities with large-scale impact on health and known effective strategies to address them.

  • The Community Guide in Action, The Community Guide: Stories feature decision-makers, program planners, employers, and leaders from across the country who have used The Community Guide to make people safer and healthier.

  • DASH (Data Across Sectors for Health), Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: DASH aims to identify barriers, opportunities, promising practices and indicators of progress for multi-sector collaborations to connect. information systems and share data for community health improvement

  • Practical Playbook, Duke University Medical Center, CDC, de Beaumont Foundation: Helping Public Health and Primary Care work together to Improve population health.

Brownson RC, Baker EA, Deshpande AD, Gillespie KN. Evidence-Based Public Health. 3rd Edition. New York: Oxford University Press; 2018

Brownson RC, Baker EA, Deshpande AD, Gillespie KN. Evidence-Based Public Health. 3rd Edition. New York: Oxford University Press; 2018

evidence-based public health

Evidence-Based Public Health is a practice which guides the development, implementation, and evaluation of public health programs and practices guided by science. Access resources that support evidence-based public health practice.

  • Evidence-Based Public Health, Prevention Research Center in St. Louis: The purpose of this site is to provide public health professionals and decision-makers with resources and tools to make evidence-based public health practice (EBPH) accessible and realistic.

  • Evidence-Based Public Health, ASTHO: Evidence-based interventions lead to more successful programs and policies, greater workforce productivity and better use of resources.

  • What Works for Health, County Health Rankings: Provides communities with information to help select and implement evidence-informed policies, programs, and system changes that will improve the variety of factors we know affect health.

  • The Community Guide, CDC: A collection of evidence-based findings of the Community Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force) to help select interventions to improve health and prevent disease.

  • Healthy People 2020 Structured Evidence Queries, Partners in Information Access for the Public Health Workforce: This resource provides pre-formulated PubMed search strategies to find published literature to support achieving Healthy People 2020 objectives.


Data can also be a powerful vehicle for understanding the health of a population---   highlighting both the existence of problems and opportunities for improvement, as well as guide community action and improve program effectiveness guided by evaluation. Access cross-cutting data sources that provide a link to a comprehensive set of data. 

  • Partners in Information Access for the Public Health Workforce: Links to data on the health of a population.

  • Data, Tools, and Statistics, National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology (NICHSR), Datat U.S. Library of Medicine: Contains selective links representing a sample of available information. Items are selected for their quality, authority of authorship, uniqueness, and appropriateness.

  • Data & Benchmarks, State, Tribal, Local & Territorial Public Health Professionals Gateway, CDC: Data and indicator analyses provide descriptive information on demographic and socioeconomic characteristics; they can be used to monitor progress and determine whether actions have the desired effect.

  •, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: This site is dedicated to making high value health data more accessible to entrepreneurs, researchers, and policy makers in the hopes of better health outcomes for all.

  • CDC Evaluation Resources, CDC: A “how to” guide for planning and implementing evaluation activities.


What good is a successful public health program to improving population health, if no one knows about it. Access resources that guide you through diverse methods for disseminating findings to a variety of audiences.

  • Evergreen Data, Intentional Reporting & Data Visualization, Stephanie Evergreen: Offers a research-based approach to visualization and design to help awesome people be even better at what they do.

  • Data Visualizations, Institute for Health Metrics & Evaluation: Here you can watch how trends in mortality change over time, choose countries to compare progress in a variety of health areas, or see how countries compare against each other on a global map.

  • Dissemination & Engagement Planning Checklist, CDC: Provides guidance for translation of evidence-based programs, practices, or policies—broadly defined to include evidence-based communications, campaigns, guidelines, and other interventions and tools.