Metropolitan Washington Healthy Places Index (HPI) Featured in Local News

As part of its regional planning effort, Region Forward, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) commissioned the Center to study disparities in health—and the factors that shape health—across the region’s 1,223 census tracts. Center researchers created a new tool, the Metropolitan Washington Healthy Places Index, to assist public health officials and policymakers in indentifying opportunities for improving health through improved education, economic wellbeing, housing, and other sectors. Among the findings was a 27-year life expectancy gap across the region, demonstrating that uneven opportunities exist across the DC area. The research was featured in local news outlets, including WTOP, the Frederick News Post, and Anacostia Park and Community Collaborative's blog

Center Research Published in BMJ Garners International Attention

The BMJ recently published research from the Center and partners at University of Pittsburgh's School of Publich Health. The article, "Changes in midlife death rates across racial and ethnic groups in the United States: systematic analysis of vital statistics," garnered media attention from publications such as the Guardian, Reuters, and USNews, as well as many healthcare and science-related blogs, such as the American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS)'s Eureka Alert!, ScienceDaily, Harvard Medical School's Center for Primary Care Review of Systems Podcast, and the Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM)'s The Hospitalist

Public Health Partners Spread the Word about the HOPE Initiative

The Health Opportunity and Equity (HOPE) Initiative, the results of a collaboration between the National Collaborative for Health Equity, the Texas Health Institute, and the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center on Society and Health, is a framework and a measurement tool seeking to better understand, assess, and accelerate the nation’s progress towards improving equitable opportunities for health and well-being for all populations. The HOPE Initiative launch in July included a webinar, with 558 registrants and 274 attendees, as well as a lively discussion. After the launch, several public health partners spread the word about the HOPE Initiative via newsletters (Build Healthy Places Network's The Pulse), on websites (Salud! America), on blogs (IAPHS), and on twitter feeds. 

Martinsville Opioid Study Highlighted in Senate Press Release, the Martinsville Bulletin 

In collaboration with the VCU Center on Society and Health and the Opioid Task Force, Virginia Tech will be conducting a two-year community-engaged research study focused on addressing the opioid crisis in Martinsville, VA. The Senate issued a press release announcing the nearly $100,000 in federal funding for this grant. The grant award and study objectives were detailed in the Martinsville Bulletin. 

Director Emeritus Woolf Participated in Radio Discussion on the Social Determinants of Health

Dr. Steven H. Woolf, Director Emeritus of the Center, participated in an hour-long discussion on the social determinants of health on WITF, the NPR affiliate in Central Pennsylvania. Smart Talk guest host Dr. Wanda Filer, Strategic Health Institute, led the discussion and was joined by Leesa Allen, Executive Deputy Secretary at Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Dr. Margot Savoy, Chair and Associate Professor of Family and Community Medicine at Temple University, current national chair of the Commission doing the EveryONE project, and Dr. Steven Woolf, Director Emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University. 

Life Expectancy Maps Continue to be Featured in Articles, Presentations

Created with the intention of starting conversations about equity, the CSH's Life Expectancy Maps continue to be prominantly featured in news articles and conference presentations. Most recently, the maps were featured in the Atlantic Monthly ahead of their event, "Healing the Divide: An Atlantic Forum on Health Equity," and in Karen DeSalvo's presentation at the 2018 Information Technology in Academic Medicine Conference, sponsored by the AAMC's Group on Information Resources (GIR). 

Increase in Suicides Across the United States since 1999

In light of the CDC report on increasing suicide rates int he US, news outlets sought out Director Emeritus Steve Woolf to provide context for this epidemic. Dr. Woolf's comments were featured in the Richmond-Times Dispatch and the LA Times

Commentary on Opportunity Gap Featured in Spotlight on Poverty 

On the 50th anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy's death, Director Emeritus Steve Woolf penned an article highlighting the need to measure gaps in opportunity in order that we may begin to close those gaps. The article was featured in Spotlight on Poverty.  

BMJ Editorial on the Failing Health of the United States in Time, LA Times

Center Director Steve Woolf, along with Urban Institute Senior Fellow Laudan Aron, penned an editorial for BMJ on the falling life expectancy in the US. The authors explored how challenging life conditions and the policies behind them may be playing a role in the continued drop in US life expectancy. The editorial gained international and national coverage from Time, USA Today, LA Times, and International Business Times. The report was also featured in the Richmond Magazine, Richmond Times-Dispatch, and on Richmond's NPR-affiliate station, WCVE

Report on the Uneven Opportunity Landscape in Northern Virginia Highlighted in Washington Post, WAMU

As a follow up to the Northern Virginia Life Expectancy Study, the Center released an updated report and interactive map for the Northern Virginia Health Foundation, diving deep into census tract data on a wide range of social and economic factors that shape residents’ health and their opportunities to thrive. The report found 15 "islands of disadvantage" interspersed between some of the wealthiest communities in Alexandria, Arlington County, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, and Prince William County. Read the Washington Post coverage here, and find the synopsis of Selena Simmons-Duffin's WAMU report here. This report was also featured in the Fairfax County Times, Alexandria News, the Standard Examiner, American News, the Daily WRAG, NBC-affiliate WDVM, and WTOP

Preliminary Findings from Mortality Study Featured in NPR Member Station KVPR

The Center's Mortality Studies are an analysis of mortality trends in California, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, and Virginia, with a special focus on the specific causes driving increases in mortality. On January 25, 2017, Valley Public Radio (NPR member station KVPR) featured preliminary findings from the on-going study of mortality rates in California. 

Northern Virginia Life Expectancy Study Highlighted in The Washington Post Magazine

The Center produced a report and interactive map for the Northern Virginia Health Foundation, which highlighted differences in life expectancy, income, educational attainment, and racial composition of neighborhoods in Arlington County, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Prince William County, and the cities they surround. The Center's data was featured in the July 31, 2016 issue of The Washington Post Magazine, which can be viewed here.

Richmond Life Expectancy Map Featured in WRIC News Report

The Center's life expectancy map for Richmond, VA, was the focus of a November 11, 2015 television news report by WRIC, an ABC affiliate. The news report highlighted the Center's map showing a 20-year life expectancy gap between neighboring communities of Gilpin Court in Richmond's East End and Westover Hills, a community five miles to the west. Dr. Derek Chapman was interviewed and featured in the news coverage, which can be viewed here.

Big Data Work Featured on KQED

The Center's San Diego Big Data Demonstration, a project to test how the application of computational modeling to large data sets can support public health and social policy in San Diego, was featured in a KQED article published on August 19, 2015. Dr. Woolf is quoted in the article, which can be be found here.

Institute of Medicine Briefing on Measurement of Health Equity

On July 30, 2015, Dr. Steven Woolf chaired the Measurement of Health Equity panel for the roundtable meeting "Metrics that Matter for Population Health Action: A Workshop"  hosted by the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Woolf's talk highlighted the ongoing life expectancy map project and other work of the Center.  In addition, Dr. Woolf's presentation examined the implications on health of classic social determinants such as income and education and emphasized a need to explore and measure the root causes of health inequity such as the role of place, history, and policy. Dr. Woolf's talk can be found here.

New Life Expectancy Maps Showcased in Major Media Outlets

The Center's most recent life expectancy maps addressing health disparties across short distances in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, North Carolina (two maps: Raleigh-Durham and a map of rural counties along U.S. Rte. 64), and Richmond received national and local media coverage.

National Coverage:

Atlanta Coverage:

Chicago Coverage:

North Carolina Coverage:

Richmond Coverage:

Informed Neighbors Corps Receives Recognition for Outreach in Creighton Court Community

The work of the Informed Neighbors Corps (INC), a group of Creighton Court community leaders convened by Engaging Richmond and Richmond Promise Neighborhood to engage residents in the housing redevelopment planning process of the Church Hill North area of Richmond, was highlighted on page 5 in the RRHA spring 2015 newsletter, The Connection. The article, which can be found here, praises the INC members for successfully engaging residents and promoting transparency among all redevelopment stakeholders. 

Issue Briefs Discussing the Relationship Between Income and Health Garner Widespread Media Attention

In partnership with the Urban Institute, the Center released two issue briefs as a product of the joint Income and Health Initiative - a project seeking to raise awareness about the connections between income and health. The briefs, released on April 13th, examine the many complex causal pathways linking income and health, and review evidence about strategies that offer promise in promoting health and economic wellbeing. Below are links to the coverage:

Final set of Education and Health Initiative issue briefs featured in the news

On April 8, 2015, the Center released its final set of issue briefs as part of the Education and Health Initiative. The three issue briefs highlight the returns on investments in education, with the first two exploring the federal and a state perspective, and the third discussing the business advantages that employers stand to gain from a more educated workforce. Coverage included:

Las Vegas Life Expectancy Map Garners Media Attention

The Center released on the March 4, 2014 the first of 20 new life expectancy maps underscoring the connection between neighborhood conditions and health. The new map demonstrates the large gaps in health across a short distance in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Center's findings were featured in local media and Dr. Derek Chapman, associate director for research, discussed the project in a radio interview with KXNT/CBS Radio.  Below are links to the coverage:

New Articles Highlight Data from Recent Education and Health Initiative Policy Brief

The Education and Health Initiative (EHI), a program of the Center on Society and Health, recently released the third in a four-part series of issue briefs and media tools aimed at raising awareness about the important connections between education and health. The third policy brief titled "Health Care: Necessary But Not Sufficient" examines new data from Kaiser Permanente to explore whether improved access to health care would eliminate the health disadvantage for people with less education. Highlights from the latest EHI policy brief have been featured in the following media:

Interview Featured in Slate

In a recent Slate magazine interview, Dr. Steven Woolf explained how socioeconomic disparities impact the health of individuals and groups. He cautioned that unless the U.S. addresses social factors outside of health care, the gap in life expectancy between "the haves and the have-nots" will likely continue to widen. The full interview can be found here.

Health Disparities Talk Featured on West Virginia Public Broadcasting

During a presentation at West Virgnina University's School of Public Heath, Dr. Steven Woolf brought a national perspective on West Virginia's health disparities and highlighted the effects on the brain of adverse childhood experiences or ACEs that set the course for chronic diseases and other problems later in life. The presentation was part of a panel discussion hosted by West Virginia's School of Public Health that was titled "Black Lung and Chemical Spills: 100 years of Poor Health in West Virginia." The West Virginia Public Broadcasting coverage of Dr. Woolf's talk can be found here.

Senate Report on Health Disparities Cited in Time

In a recent opinion piece in Time, best-selling author David Sheff cites Dr. Steven Woolf's Senate report to the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging to underscore shorter life expectancy, poorer health, and other inequities experienced by those living in poverty in the U.S. The link to the article, "If You Want to See Inequality in the U.S. at Its Worst, Visit an Impound Lot," can be found here.

New Post Weighs in on Investing in What Works for America's Communities

In a new post on the Investing in What Works for America's Communities blog site, Center director Dr. Steven Woolf describes the environmental factors that influence the complex relationship between education and health. Not only do school, home, and neighborhood conditions affect a child’s learning opportunities and ability to perform in class, but poor health resulting from an unhealthy environment can also interfere with education. The link to the June 25th blog article can be found here.

Institute of Medicine Report Cited in The New Yorker

In a recent blog article featured in The New Yorker, author Allan Detsky cites Steven Woolf's 2013 Institute of of Medicine (IOM) report to illustrate "Why America is Losing the Health Race." Based on his interview with Woolf, Detsky uses the findings of the IOM report to raise public awareness on the widening gap between health outcomes for Americans and those living in other developed countries and to explain the role of social circumstance such as income in the health of all Americans. The link to the article can be found here.

The Virginia Gazette Features Talk at The College of William and Mary About Addressing Social Factors that Affect Health

At a March 20th lecture held at the College of William and Mary and as a keynote speaker at a dinner organized by the Williamsburg Health Foundation, Dr. Woolf discussed the importance of social conditions outside of health care. He highlighted the findings of his 2013 Institute of Medicine report to illustrate the health disparity that exists in the U.S. compared with other high-income countries.  Dr. Woolf's talk is featured in the video below and covered on the Schroeder Center for Health Policy website at the College of William and Mary. It was also covered in two articles by The Virginia
newspaper, which can be found by clicking the titles below:

Education and Health Initiative Issue Brief and Video Garner Media Attention

As part of the Education and Health Initiative, the Center released on January 7, 2014 its first issue brief and video demonstrating the important link between education and health. Highlights from the study have been featured in the following print, online, and broadcast media:

 U.S. Senate Hearing Presentation of Data on Health Disparities

On November 20, 2013, Dr. Steven Woolf addressed members of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging. Dr. Woolf shared data on health disparities that exist between the wealthy and the poor in America and emphasized the connection between economic policy and health policy. Dr. Woolf's testimony was covered in a recent VCU News story and he was cited in a November 20th Congressional Quarterly News article and in The Nation. Excerpts from the hearing can be seen in the video below. The full hearing can be viewed here.

Congressional Briefing of U.S. Health Disadvantage

The Center on Society and Health's Director Steven Woolf was one of four featured speakers on Capitol Hill discussing "What's Ailing America?" The Senate briefing focused on Dr. Woolf's recent National Research Council and Institute of Medicine report, which examined the health of people who live in the U.S. as compared with those in other wealthy nations. To read more about the briefing, visit VCU News.

Dr. Woolf's testimony was featured in an article by the American Psychological Association (APA) that discussed the ways in which inequality in America undermines health and how we might close the health-wealth gap. His remarks were also cited in an article in The Nation that highlighted issues related to the ongoing political debate over the Affordable Care Act.

MSNBC's Martin Bashir Addresses Impact of Cuts to SNAP Program

MSNBC reporter Martin Bashir spoke with House Representative Andy Harris about the impact of cutting billions of dollars in SNAP benefits for the working poor, a focus for a recent Health Impact Assessment report conducted by the Center. The full MSNBC interview can be found here. Bashir cites the results of our analysis, which estimated the potential effect of the proposed cuts on the costs of medical care for diabetes.

ABC's Good Morning America Features Center's Life Expectancy Map

One of several life expectancy maps created by the Center in conjunction with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation was highlighted on ABC's Good Morning America program. The story featured the disparities in life expectancy among several neighborhoods surrounding New Orleans, specifically citing the difference between the Treme neighborhood, where the life expectancy average is 54.5 years as compared with the Lakeview neighborhood only a few miles away, where the average is approximately 80 years. The Center's director, Dr. Steven Woolf, was quoted in the article, which can be found here.

Life expectancy maps featured in Slate Magazine

The daily online magazine Slate highlighted five life expectancy maps produced by the Center for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Commission to Build a Healthier America including: San Joaquin, CA; New Orleans; Washington, DC; Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN; Kansas City, MO. The article also highlighted the vast discrepancies in life expectancy among residents living in different zip codes or in different neighborhoods around a particular metropolitan area, which are illustrated in the maps. The full article can be found here.

The New York Times reports on the Health Impact Assessment of cuts to the SNAP program

The New York Times, in reporting on the report recently released by the Health Impact Project—a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts—cited the work of the Center in estimating the health consequences of poverty that might result from proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The Center assisted in the project by compiling the research supporting the link between income and health. The New York Times story is available here and the report the Center produced in conjunction with the Health Impact Project's HIA is available here.

New Article Highlights the Work of the Center with the Robert Wood Johnson Commission to Build a Healthier America

Our life expectancy is determined by many different factors but one of the strongest and most surprising is the neighborhood in which we live.  The Center worked on this topic in our Place Matters project and continued with that theme in working with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Commission to Build a Healthier America.  Using data from our previous work as well as updated calculations in new areas, the Center produced maps that are highlighted in the report.  Click here for an article quoting the Center's own Steve Woolf on the study's release.

Health Impact Assessment reveals serious health effects of food stamp program cuts

The VCU Center on Society and Health, in partnership with researchers at the University of California, San Francisco Center on Social Disparities and Health, released a study Tuesday, June 25, 2013 that detailed the potential health outcomes and higher costs associated with proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Read the press release here.

Use of livestock waste as fuel provides an alternative energy source while improving water quality but is also a concern for air pollution

On Monday March 4th, the Center released the final report on its Health Impact Assessment of a proposed large-scale, poultry litter-to-energy facility in the Shenandoah Valley, the results of a 15 month study.  The Center found that although the facility could improve some health risks, especially in areas with poor water quality but low levels of air pollution, the concentration of air pollutants that are already in the Valley are concerning.  Read the press release here.


The National Research Council releases its report on the health of people in the United States compared to other wealthy nations

Under the direction of the Center's Dr. Steven Woolf, a panel of health experts from the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine have released a new report examining the health of the people of the United States in comparison to other wealthy nations.  Despite spending more on health care, Americans die sooner and experience higher rates of disease at all age categories—even in comparison of higher income populations—than in other countries.  Read the press release here.


Richmond Times-Dispatch highlights Engaging Richmond university-community collaborative study

The Richmond Times-Dispatch covered Engaging Richmond’s year-long study on community factors influencing health of residents living in the East End. The articles featured several Engaging Richmond team members. To view the articles, click the titles below:

Engaging Richmond team member Marco Thomas featured in Changing Times newsletter

Marco Thomas’s contributions to Engaging Richmond research and the East End community as well as his personal journey to a life dedicated to positive change was highlighted in the December 2012 issue of Changing Times, a Virginia Department of Corrections publication. To view the article, click here.

Baltimore Place Matters team releases their community health equity report

The fifth of eight community health equity reports produced by the Center in collaboration with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies' Health Policy Institute was released on November 13th, 2012.  The report found that life expectancy in communities within Baltimore differed by as much as 30 years depending on the neighborhood.  The Baltimore Sun ran a story on this report available here.  You can read the full text of both the Community Health Equity Report and the technical report produced by the Center that informed the final report on our website.

U.S. Census Bureau reports new poverty numbers

On Wednesday, September 12th, the U.S. Census Bureau released the latest version of its report "Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States".  The poverty rate remained statistically unchanged from the previous year but the trend in decreasing median income that has persisted throughout much of the last decade continued.  Hear the Center's director Dr. Steven Woolf share his thoughts on the report with Richmond's local National Public Radio affiliate WCVE here.

Place Matters

A recent commentary on the Place Matters Community Health Equity Report for Orleans Parish was broadcast on WWNO radio (a NPR affiliate) on 6/22/2012.  One of the findings of the report was a 25 year difference in life expectancy between zip codes among Orleans residents.

Links to other instances of VCU Center on Society and Health in the News

April 2012: The VCU Center on Society and Health (formerly the VCU Center on Human Needs) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) released an updated version of the County Health Calculator in conjunction with RWJF's third annual release of the County Health Rankings.  The new and improved version of the calculator allows users to manipulate the educational attainment and/or income level of any county in the nation in order to see the estimated impact on deaths, cases of diabetes, and annual cost in diabetes.

Dr. Woolf's Q & A with RWJF

Article with VCU News Center

March 30th, 2012: The Center held its first public meeting regarding the Health Impact Assessment of the poultry litter-to-energy facility proposed for the Shenandoah Valley.  Attendees provided feedback on what health outcomes and health determinants in which the study should focus.

Local news report on the meeting

March 1st, 2012:  The first of eight community health equity reports produced by the Center was released for the San Joaquin Valley region of California.  The report looked at the distribution of health outcomes by zip code in the area as well as the size of the racial and ethnic minority community and environmental hazards.

Article with VCU News Center

Blog posting from Harvesting Health

WCVE - NPR interviews Dr. Woolf on the effects of income and education on mortality

Listen to the interview, broadcast on WCVE radio in Richmond, VA (a NPR affiliate) on 2/19/2010