Community pharmacies serve as key locations for public health services including interventions to enhance the availability of syringes sold over-the-counter (OTC), an important strategy to prevent injection-mediated HIV transmission. Little is known about the community characteristics associated with the availability of pharmacies and pharmacies that sell syringes OTC. We conducted multivariable regression analyses to determine whether the sociodemographic characteristics of census tract residents were associated with pharmacy presence in Los Angeles (LA) County during 2008. Using a geographic information system, we conducted hot-spot analyses to identify clusters of pharmacies, OTC syringe-selling pharmacies, sociodemographic variables, and their relationships. For LA County census tracts (N = 2,054), population size (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.22; 95 % confidence interval [CI], 1.16, 1.28), median age of residents (AOR, 1.03; 95 % CI, 1.01, 1.05), and the percent of households receiving public assistance (AOR, 0.97; 95 % CI, 0.94, 0.99) were independently associated with the presence of all pharmacies. Only 12 % of census tracts had at least one OTC syringe-selling pharmacy and sociodemographic variables were not independently associated with the presence of OTC syringe-selling pharmacies. Clusters of pharmacies (p < 0.01) were located proximally to clusters of older populations and were distant from clusters of poorer populations. Our combined statistical and spatial analyses provided an innovative approach to assess the sociodemographic and geographic factors associated with the presence of community pharmacies and pharmacies that participate in OTC syringe sales.
Electronic supplementary material
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Pharmacies; Syringe access; HIV prevention; GIS; Health policy
Incarceration has been extensively linked with HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). While a great deal of attention has been given to the risk behaviors of people who have been incarcerated, examination of the behaviors of partners of incarcerated individuals is also needed to understand the direct and indirect links between incarceration and HIV and to identify prevention avenues. In the present study, we hypothesize that incarceration is associated with risk behavior through attitudes and norms. The purpose of this paper is: (1) to describe the attitudes and norms about sexual behaviors that women have when a sexual partner is incarcerated; and (2) to examine the association between attitudes and norms with the behavior of having other sex partners while a main partner is incarcerated. In our sample (n = 175), 50 % of women reported having other sex partners while their partner was incarcerated. Our findings show that attitudes, descriptive norms (i.e., norms about what other people do), and injunctive norms (i.e., norms about what others think is appropriate) were associated with having other partners. Interventions designed for couples at pre- and post-release from prison are needed to develop risk reduction plans and encourage HIV/STI testing prior to their reunion.
HIV; Incarceration; Women; Norms
The rate of HIV infection among young Black men who have sex with men (YBMSM) aged 16–29 is increasing significantly in the United States. Prevention in this population would considerably impact future health-care resources given the need for lifelong antiretrovirals. A YBMSM population estimate is needed to assist HIV prevention program planning. This analysis estimates the number of YBMSM aged 16–29 living on the south side of Chicago (SSC), the Chicago HIV epicenter, as the first step in eliminating HIV in this population. Three methods were utilized to estimate the number of YBMSM in the SSC. First, an indirect approach following the formula a = k/b; where a = the estimated number of YBMSM, k = the average YBMSM HIV prevalence estimate, and b = the YBMSM population-based HIV seropositivity rate. Second, data from the most recent National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) was used to estimate the proportion of Black men who report having sex with a man. Third, a modified Delphi approach was used, which averaged community expert estimates. The indirect approach yielded an average estimate of 11.7 % YBMSM, the NSFG yielded a 4.2 % (95 % CI 2.28–6.21) estimate, and the modified Delphi approach yielded estimates of 3.0 % (2.3–3.6), 16.8 % (14.5–19.1), and 25 % (22.0–27.0); an average of 14.9 %. The crude average of the three methods was 10.2 %. Applied to SSC, this results to 5,578 YBMSM. The estimate of 5,578 YBMSM represents a group that can be feasibly reached with HIV prevention efforts. Population estimates of those most at risk for HIV will help public health officials allocate resources, offering potential for elimination of new HIV cases.
HIV/AIDS; Men who have sex with men; Black/African-American; Youth; Population estimates
Opioid overdoses are an important public health concern. Concerns about police involvement at overdose events may decrease calls to 911 for emergency medical care thereby increasing the chances than an overdose becomes fatal. To address this concern, Washington State passed a law that provides immunity from drug possession charges and facilitates the availability of take-home-naloxone (the opioid overdose antidote) to bystanders in 2010. To examine the knowledge and opinions regarding opioid overdoses and this new law, police (n = 251) and paramedics (n = 28) in Seattle, WA were surveyed. The majority of police (64 %) and paramedics (89 %) had been at an opioid overdose in the prior year. Few officers (16 %) or paramedics (7 %) were aware of the new law. While arrests at overdose scenes were rare, drugs or paraphernalia were confiscated at 25 % of the most recent overdoses police responded to. Three quarters of officers felt it was important they were at the scene of an overdose to protect medical personnel, and a minority, 34 %, indicated it was important they were present for the purpose of enforcing laws. Police opinions about the immunity and naloxone provisions of the law were split, and we present a summary of the reasons for their opinions. The results of this survey were utilized in public health efforts by the police department which developed a roll call training video shown to all patrol officers. Knowledge of the law was low, and opinions of it were mixed; however, police were concerned about the issue of opioid overdose and willing to implement agency-wide training.
Overdose; Law; Police; Paramedic; Opioid; Heroin; Naloxone; Good Samaritan; Public health
The burden of noncommunicable diseases and social inequalities in health among urban populations is becoming a common problem around the world. This phenomenon is further compounded by population aging. Japan faces the task of maintaining its high level of population health while dealing with these challenges. This study focused on the ten largest cities in Japan and, using publicly available administrative data, analyzed standardized mortality ratios to examine inequalities in relative mortality levels due to major noncommunicable disease at both city and subcity levels. On average, the ten major cities had excess mortality due to cancer and lower mortality due to heart disease and cerebrovascular disease compared to the country as a whole. Substantial inequalities in relative mortality were observed both between and within cities, especially for heart disease and cerebrovascular disease among men. Inequalities in relative mortality levels within cities appear to be increasing over time even while relative mortality levels are decreasing overall. The widely observed health inequalities signal the need for actions to ensure health equity while addressing the burden of noncommunicable diseases. Increasingly, more countries will have to deal with these challenges of inequity, urbanization, aging, and noncommunicable diseases. Local health governance informed by locally specific data on health determinants and outcomes is essential for developing contextualized interventions to improve health and health equity in major urban areas.
Japan; Urban health; Noncommunicable disease; Mortality; Health equity
With its emphasis on empowerment, individual and community capacity building, and translating research findings into action, community-based participatory research (CBPR) may be particularly advantageous in work with urban immigrant populations. This paper highlights eight ways in which CBPR has been shown to add value to work with urban underserved communities. It then describes the background, context, and methods of an ecological CBPR project, the Chinatown Restaurant Worker Health and Safety Study, conducted in San Francisco, California, and draws on study processes and outcomes to illustrate each of the eight areas identified. Challenges of using CBPR, particularly with urban immigrant populations, briefly are described, drawing again on the Chinatown study to provide illustrative examples. We discuss lessons learned, through this and other studies, for the effective use of CBPR with urban immigrant populations. We conclude that despite its challenges, this transdisciplinary, community-partnered and action-oriented approach to inquiry can make substantial contributions to both the processes and the outcomes of the research.
Community-based participatory research; Urban immigrant worker health; Community capacity; Community partnerships; Transdisciplinary partnerships
This study was designed to estimate the relationship between exposure to tobacco retail outlets and smoking initiation in a racially diverse urban setting. Using data from the 2011 NYC Youth Risk Behavior Survey, multivariable logistic regression analyses were conducted to estimate the exposure–initiation relationship and test for effect modification, while controlling for covariates. The predicted probability of smoking initiation from the multivariable model increased from 7.7 % for zero times a week exposed to tobacco retailers to 16.0 % for exposure seven times or more per week. The odds of initiation were significantly higher among adolescents exposed to tobacco retail outlets two times or more a week compared with those exposed less often (AOR = 1.41; 95 % CI: 1.08, 1.84). Risk-taking behavior modified the relationship between exposure and initiation, with the odds of initiation highest among those low in risk-taking (AOR = 1.78; 95 % CI: 1.14, 1.56). These results are consistent with past research, showing that frequent exposure to tobacco marketing in retail settings is associated with increased odds of initiation. Reducing exposure to tobacco retail marketing could play an important role in curtailing smoking among adolescents, especially those less prone to risk-taking.
Adolescent tobacco use; Smoking initiation; Tobacco marketing
Urban slum dwellers are not only prone to develop communicable diseases but also to non-communicable disease (NCDs). The extent and magnitude of NCDs among slum dwellers is largely unknown in Nigeria. A total of 964 adults aged 20–81 years (male 330 and female 634) residing in the urban slum of Ajegunle in Lagos State, Nigeria were studied to determine the prevalence of hypertension and associated factors. The overall prevalence of hypertension was 38.2 %. Of the 368 respondents identified as having hypertension, only 50 (5.2 %) respondents were previously aware of their diagnosis. Of the 50 known hypertensive patients, 48(96 %) had poor control of their high blood pressure. The socio-demographic factors significantly associated with hypertension status were age, sex, education, religion, BMI, and marital status. The study concludes a high prevalence of hypertension among urban slums dwellers in Lagos. The need for government to develop policies for the control of hypertension, improve access to early diagnosis and provide an enabling socioeconomic environment while promoting healthy living.
Hypertension; Prevalence; Slum; Urban poor; Nigeria
Most research concerning clients of commercial sex workers (CSWs) relies upon CSW reports of client characteristics and behavior. We describe correlates of ever purchasing sex among 3,829 men from three cities: São Paulo, Brazil; Cuernavaca, Mexico; and Tampa, USA. A computer-assisted self-interview collected data on demographics and sexual behavior. There were significant site differences—26.5 % paid for sex in São Paulo, 10.4 % in Cuernavaca, and 4.9 % in Tampa. In all cities, men who had sex with men and women (versus sex with women only) were more likely to have ever paid for sex. In São Paulo and Cuernavaca, CSW clients were older, had higher educational attainment, and were less likely to be married. In Tampa, older age was associated with being a CSW client but not education and marital status. In São Paulo and Cuernavaca, CSW clients had more partners than men who had never paid for sex. In São Paulo, CSW clients initiated vaginal sex at an earlier age, while in Cuernavaca they were more likely to self-report a sexually transmitted infection. CSW clients varied with respect to demographics across the three cities while the association between paying for sex and risky sexual behavior seems to be somewhat conserved. These findings suggest that interventions among CSW clients should focus on condom use with commercial and non-commercial partners as these men may be at increased risk for transmitting and acquiring sexually transmitted infections to and from their sex partners. Better understanding of client characteristics is needed for targeting interventions and creating culturally appropriate content.
Commercial sex workers; Men; Clients; Brazil; Mexico; United States; Interurban
We aimed to test two hypotheses that (1) there were significant variations in the prevalence of hypertension (HBP) across neighborhoods in the city of Philadelphia and (2) these variations were significantly explained by the variations in the neighborhood physical and socioeconomic environment (PSE). We used data from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Surveys in 2002–2004 (study period 1, n = 8,567), and in 2008–2010 (period 2, n = 8,747). An index of neighborhood PSE was constructed using multiple specific measures. The associations of HBP with PSE at the neighborhood level and other risk factors at the individual level were examined using multilevel regression analysis. The results show that age-adjusted prevalence of HBP increased from 30.33 to 33.04 % from study periods 1 to 2 (p < 0.001). An estimate of 44 and 53 % of the variations in the prevalence of HBP could be explained by the variations in neighborhood PSE in study periods 1 and 2, respectively. In conclusion, prevalence of HBP significantly increased from 2002–2004 to 2008–2010. Individuals living in neighborhoods with disadvantaged PSE have significantly higher risk of the prevalence of HBP.
Hypertension; Neighborhood environment; Urban health; Multilevel models
Ciclovias are active street events when roads are open to walkers, cyclists, and families and closed to automobiles. Over 70 cities in the USA have implemented ciclovias to promote physical activity. The authors evaluated four events during 2010 to determine what activities participants perform and who is attending. For two ciclovia events in St. Louis, Missouri, observation reports of activities, gender, and age of 1,452 participants were collected, and 82 adults were interviewed via direct approach. The survey covered six domains: physical activity, travel to event, sense of community, marketing, economic impact, and demographics. Each event occurred within the city, along multiple streets. Domains were selected from Ciclovia Recreativa developed by Ciclovia Bogota, Pan American Health Organization, and CDC. Additional questions addressed city-specific goals and matched similar evaluations in other cities. Over 50 % of participants met CDC-defined weekly minute thresholds for physical activity. Participants, primarily (>80 %) middle class, college educated, and white, were not representative of the majority minority city population, which has high rates of poverty, and low percentage of college graduates. Cities must work with residents to increase low-income minority population participation in ciclovia-based physical activity.
Ciclovia; Recreation; Health communication; Minority populations
Hazards in the urban built environment can create barriers to mobility among older adults aging in place. We investigated the relationship between urban built environment characteristics and 15-month trajectories of mobility disability in a sample of 1,188 older adults living in Detroit, MI, a city that has undergone rapid economic and structural decline. Data come from the Michigan Minimum Data Set for Home Care (2001–2008), an enumerative database of older adults in Michigan who qualify for federal or state-funded home and community-based long-term care through a Medicaid waiver program. Standardized assessments are made at intake and every 90 days by case managers. Built environments were assessed with a virtual audit using the “Street View” feature of Google Earth. A summary accessibility score was created for each block based on a count of the number of accessible features (e.g., continuous barrier-free sidewalks and proximity of public transportation). Using growth mixture models, two latent trajectories of outdoor mobility were identified: one capturing occasional outdoor mobility (representing 83 % of the sample) and one capturing almost no mobility outside the home. Controlling for sociodemographic and health risk factors, individuals living in more accessible environments had a 18 % higher odds of being in the more mobile group (OR = 1.18, 95 % CI = 1.01, 1.41). These findings emphasize the importance of the built environment for mobility among urban-dwelling older adults.
Aging; Mobility; Built environment
Based on several stress-coping frameworks, recent studies have suggested that perceived experiences of discrimination, a psychosocial stressor, may be associated with various risky health behaviors. The 2001 Chicago Community Adult Health Study (n = 3,101), a face-to-face representative probability sample of adults in Chicago, IL, USA, was used to examine the relationship among lifetime everyday discrimination, major discrimination, and the use of illicit and psychotherapeutic drugs for nonmedical reasons. We used negative binomial logistic and multinomial regression analyses controlling for potential confounders. Approximately 17 % of the respondents reported using one or more illicit drugs and/or misusing one or more psychotherapeutic drug. Adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics, other stressors and various personality-related characteristics, results from negative binomial regression suggest that respondents who experienced moderate to high levels of everyday discrimination misused on average 1.5 different kinds of drugs more than respondents that experienced relatively low levels of everyday discrimination (p < 0.05). Similarly, an increase in one lifetime major discrimination event was associated with an increase of misusing 1.3 different drugs on average regardless of experiences of everyday discrimination (p < 0.001). When examining the types of drugs misused, results from multinomial logistic regression suggest that everyday discrimination was only associated with illicit drug use alone; however, lifetime major discrimination was associated with increased odds of using any illicit and both illicit/psychotherapeutic drugs. Mental health and substance use clinical providers should be aware of these potential relationships and consider addressing the harmful effects of perceived discrimination, in all patients not only among racial/ethnic minority patients.
Social determinants of health; Stress; Coping behavior; Discrimination; Drug misuse
Substance use and substance use disorders (SUDs) have been linked with marital discord. Relatively little is known, however, about the antecedents of SUDs, the mediators of these factors over time, or their associations with the spousal/partner relationship among urban adults. A better understanding of the longitudinal pathways to marital conflict and to SUDs should help prevention and intervention programs target their precursors within the developmental period in which they occur. The present study, therefore, examined the longitudinal predictors of an unsupportive spousal/partner relationship and SUDs among a community sample of urban African American and Puerto Rican adults from East Harlem, NY. Participants (N = 816) completed structured questionnaires at five time waves, from adolescence to adulthood (mean ages = 14, 19, 24, 29, and 32 years). Structural equation modeling examined the effects of earlier environmental and social stressors and intrapersonal and interpersonal factors on later SUDs in adulthood. There was a good fit of the structural equation model (CFI = 0.91; RMSEA = 0.06; and SRMR = 0.06), which revealed three main pathways from adolescence to the spousal/partner relationship and SUDs in adulthood. One pathway linked a weak parent–adolescent attachment relationship with the participant’s psychological symptoms in emerging adulthood (p < 0.01), which in turn were related to affiliation with deviant and drug-using peers, also in emerging adulthood (p < 0.001). Peer deviance and drug use were associated with the participant’s substance use in young adulthood (p < 0.001), which predicted both an unsupportive spousal/partner relationship (p < 0.05) and SUDs (p < 0.001) later in adulthood. Other pathways highlighted the continuity of psychological symptoms as related to both substance use in young adulthood (p < 0.001) and an unsupportive spousal/partner relationship in adulthood (p < 0.001). Findings showed that the associations of both distal stressors and the parent–adolescent relationship with more proximal intra- and interpersonal problems predicted unsupportive spousal/partner relationships and SUDs among urban adults. Several aspects of the individual’s life, at different developmental stages, provide opportunities for interventions to prevent or reduce unsupportive spousal/partner relationships and SUDs.
Substance use disorders; Spousal/partner relationship; Environmental influences; Parent–adolescent attachment relationship; Peer deviance and drug use; Psychological symptoms
The objective of this study was to assess the association between oral health and individual-level characteristics as well as both socioeconomic position (SEP) and service provision characteristics at the neighborhood level. Multilevel logistic analysis was undertaken of data from the Neighbourhood Effects on Health and Well-being Study in Toronto comprising 2,412 participants living in 47 neighborhoods and 87 census tracts. Three oral health outcomes were investigated: last dental visit, self-rated oral health, and self-rated oral pain. Results indicated that SEP was significantly associated with no dental visits in the last year, poor self-rated oral health, and experiencing oral pain after adjusting for age, gender, and immigrant status. Lack of dental insurance was associated with no visits to the dentist in the last year and poor self-rated oral health; however, no association was observed with oral pain. In adjusted regression models, few neighborhood level variables were significantly associated with dental visits and self-rated oral health and no neighborhood variables were associated with oral pain. Based on these results, SEP appears to be important in evaluating oral health outcomes. While insignificant in this study, neighborhood factors are important when considering the impact of service provision on oral health.
Socioeconomic position; Oral health; Neighborhoods; Multilevel modeling
We assessed associations in substance use, psychosocial characteristics, and HIV-related sexual risk behaviors, comparing characteristics of Black men who only have sex with other men only (BMSMO; n = 839) to Black men who have sex with men and women (BMSMW; n = 590). The study analyzed baseline data from the HIV Prevention Trials Network Brothers Study (HPTN 061), a feasibility study of a multi-component intervention for Black MSM in six US cities. Bivariate analyses compared BMSMO to BMSMW along demographics, substance use, psychosocial characteristics, and HIV-related sexual risk behaviors. Logistic regression models then assessed multivariable associations between being BMSMW and the odds of engaging in HIV-related sexual risk behaviors. Adjusted analyses revealed that BMSMW remained more likely to have unprotected anal intercourse while under the influence of alcohol (AOR: 1.45; 95 % CI:1.11–1.90) and were more likely to receive money/drugs for sex (AOR: 2.11; 95 % CI:1.48–3.03), compared to BMSMO. Substance use is an important factor to be considered when developing risk-reduction interventions for BMSMW. Structural interventions that address factors that may contribute to exchange sex among these men are also warranted.
HIV; Black MSM; Substance use; Mental health; Homophobia; Sexual risk; Sexual minorities
The purpose of this study was to examine the associations between individual and neighborhood social contextual factors and smoking prevalence among African-American women in subsidized neighborhoods. We randomly sampled 663 adult women in 17 subsidized neighborhoods in two Southeastern US states. The smoking prevalence among participants was 37.6 %, with an estimated neighborhood household prevalence ranging from 30 to 68 %. Smokers were more likely to be older, have lower incomes, have lower BMI, and live with other smokers. Women with high social cohesion were less likely to smoke, although living in neighborhoods with higher social cohesion was not associated with smoking prevalence. Women with higher social cohesion were more likely to be older and had lived in the neighborhood longer. Women with high stress (related to violence and disorder) and who lived in neighborhoods with higher stress were more likely to smoke. Younger women were more likely to have higher stress than older women. There were no statistically significant associations with objective neighborhood crime data in any model. This is the first study to examine both individual and neighborhood social contextual correlates among African-American women in subsidized neighborhoods. This study extends findings about smoking behaviors and neighborhood social contexts in this high-risk, urban population. Future research is needed to explore age and residential stability differences and perceptions of social cohesion, neighborhood disorder, and perceived violence in subsidized housing. Further research is also warranted on African-American women, subsidized housing, smoking, social context, health disparities’ effective strategies to address these individual and contextual factors to better inform future ecological-based multilevel prevention, and cessation intervention strategies.
African-American women; Subsidized housing; Smoking; Social context; Health disparities
Equity in health has been the underlying value of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Health for All policy for 30 years. This article examines how cities have translated this principle into action. Using information designed to help evaluate phase IV (2003–2008) of the WHO European Healthy Cities Network (WHO-EHCN) plus documentation from city programs and websites, an attempt is made to assess how far the concept of equity in health is understood, the political will to tackle the issue, and types of action taken. Results show that although cities continue to focus considerable support on vulnerable groups, rather than the full social gradient, most are now making the necessary shift towards more upstream policies to tackle determinants of health such as poverty, unemployment, education, housing, and the environment, without neglecting access to care. Although local level data reflecting inequalities in health is improving, there is still a long way to go in some cities. The Healthy Cities Project is becoming an integral part of structures for long-term planning and intersectoral action for health in cities, and Health Impact Assessment is gradually being developed. Participation in the WHO-EHCN appears to allow new members to leap-frog ahead established cities. However, this evaluation also exposes barriers to effective local policies and processes to reduce health inequalities. Armed with locally generated evidence of critical success factors, the WHO-EHCN has embarked on a more rigorous and determined effort to achieve the prerequisites for equity in health. More attention will be given to evaluating the effectiveness of action taken and to dealing not only with the most vulnerable but a greater part of the gradient in socioeconomic health inequalities.
Equity; Healthy cities; Social determinants; Health equality
The new European Health Policy Framework and Strategy: Health 2020 of the World Health Organization, draws upon the experience and insights of five phases, spanning 25 years, of the WHO European Healthy Cities Network (WHO-EHCN). Applying the 2020 health lens to Healthy Cities, equity in health and human-centered sustainable development are core values and cities have a profound influence on the wider determinants of health in the European population. “Making it Happen” relies on four action elements applied and tested by municipalities and their formal and informal partners: political commitment, vision and strategy, institutional change, and networking. In turn, the renewed commitment by member states of the WHO Regional Committee to work with all spheres and tiers of government is a new dawn for city governance, encouraging cities to redouble their investment in health and health equity in all policies, even in a period of austerity. For phase VI, the WHO-EHCN is being positioned as a strategic vehicle for implementing Health 2020 at the local level. Healthy Cities' leadership is more relevant than ever.
Health 2020; Healthy Cities; Urban governance; Urban health
Community participation and empowerment are key values underpinning the European WHO Healthy Cities initiative, now in its fifth phase. This paper provides a brief overview of the history, policy context, and theory relating to community participation and empowerment. Drawing on Phase IV evaluation data, it presents the findings in relation to the four quadrants of Davidson’s Wheel of Participation—information, consultation, participation in decision making, and empowerment. The large majority of European Healthy Cities have mechanisms in place to provide information for and to consult with local people. Most also demonstrate a commitment to enabling community participation in decision-making and to empowering citizens. Within this context, the evaluation highlighted a diversity of approaches and revealed varied perspectives on how participation and empowerment can be integrated within city leadership and governance processes. The paper concludes by suggesting that there is a need to strengthen future evaluative research to better understand how and why the Healthy Cities approach makes a difference.
Healthy cities; Community participation; Community empowerment
The evidence-base for a health strategy should include information on the determinants of health and how they link together if it is to influence the health of the population. The WHO European Healthy Cities Network developed a set of 53 healthy city indicators (HCIs), to describe the health of its citizens and capture a range of local initiatives addressing the wider dimensions of health. This was the first systematic effort to collect and analyze a range of data from European cities. The analysis provided important insights into the interpretation, availability, and feasibility of collecting data, resulting in the development of a revised set of 32 indicators with improved definitions. An analysis of the revised indicators showed that this data was more complete and feasible to collect. It provided useful information to cities contributing to developing a description of health and thus helping to identify health problems. It also highlighted issues about the importance of collecting qualitative as well as quantitative data, the number of indicators and the appropriateness of using the indicators to compare different cities. HCIs facilitated the collection of routinely available health data in a systematic manner. The introduction of HCIs has encouraged cities to adopt a structured process of collecting information on the health of their citizens and build on this information by collecting appropriate local data for developing a city health profile to underpin a city health plan that would set out strategies and interventions to improve health and provide the evidence-base for health plans.
Healthy cities; Health indicators
The methodology of health impact assessment (HIA) was introduced as one of four core themes for Phase IV (2003–2008) of the World Health Organization European Healthy Cities Network (WHO-EHCN). Four objectives for HIA were set at the beginning of the phase. We report on the results of the evaluation of introducing and implementing this methodology in cities from countries across Europe with widely differing economies and sociopolitical contexts. Two main sources of data were used: a general questionnaire designed for the Phase IV evaluation and the annual reporting template for 2007–2008. Sources of bias included the proportion of non-responders and the requirement to communicate in English. Main barriers to the introduction and implementation of HIA were a lack of skill, knowledge and experience of HIA, the newness of the concept, the lack of a legal basis for implementation and a lack of political support. Main facilitating factors were political support, training in HIA, collaboration with an academic/public health institution or local health agency, a pre-existing culture of intersectoral working, a supportive national policy context, access to WHO materials about or expertise in HIA and membership of the WHO-EHCN, HIA Sub-Network or a National Network. The majority of respondents did not feel that they had had the resources, knowledge or experience to achieve all of the objectives set for HIA in Phase IV. The cities that appear to have been most successful at introducing and implementing HIA had pre-existing experience of HIA, came from a country with a history of applying HIA, were HIA Sub-Network members or had made a commitment to implementing HIA during successive years of Phase IV. Although HIA was recognised as an important component of Healthy Cities’ work, the experience in the WHO-EHCN underscores the need for political buy-in, capacity building and adequate resourcing for the introduction and implementation of HIA to be successful.
Health impact assessment; HIA; Health in All Policies; HiAP; Evaluation
Local governments in Europe have a vital role in promoting physical activity in the daily life of citizens. However, explicit investment in active living has been limited. One of the four core themes for Phase IV (2003–2008) of the World Health Organization (WHO) European Healthy Cities Network (WHO-EHCN) was to encourage local governments and their partners to implement programs in favor of active living. This study analyzes the performance of network cities during this period. Responses to a general evaluation questionnaire are analyzed by content according to a checklist, and categorized into themes and dimensions. Most cities viewed “active living” as an important issue for urban planning; to improve visual appeal, enhance social cohesion, create a more sustainable transport system to promote walkability and cyclability and to reduce inequalities in public health. Almost all member cities reported on existing policies that support the promotion of active living. However, only eight (of the 59) responding cities mentioned an integrated framework specific for active living. Many efforts to promote active living are nested in programs to prevent obesity among adults or children. Future challenges include establishing integrated policies specifically for active living, introducing a larger range of actions, as well as increasing funding and capacity to make a difference at the population level.
Active Living; Socio-ecological model; Healthy Cities
In this introductory article, we situate the findings of the Phase IV evaluation effort of the WHO European Healthy Cities Network in its historic evolutionary development. We review each of the contributions to this supplement in terms of the theoretical and methodological frameworks applied. Although the findings of each are both relevant and generated with a scholarly rigor that is appropriate to the context in which the evaluation took place, we find that particularly these contextual factors have not contributed to optimum quality of research. Any drawbacks in individual contributions cannot be attributed to their analysts and authors but relate to the complicated and evolving nature of the project. These factors are also reviewed.
Healthy Cities; Methodology