The Department of Public Health and the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University released “Close to Home: The Health of Philadelphia’s Neighborhoods,” a first-of-its-kind report showing health statistics by neighborhood, on Thursday.
The data covers 46 neighborhoods in Philadelphia, sorted alphabetically in the full report. Users can compare different health factors for each neighborhood, including alcohol use and obesity rates, alongside environmental factors such as a walkability score and percentage of vacant buildings.
The site has a map view of neighborhoods as well as a breakdown by statistic that features the neighborhoods with the highest and the lowest health outcomes compared to the city as a whole.
Health Department Chief Epidemiologist Raynard Washington said the report was inspired by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 500 Cities project, which features public health information from cities across the country. Using that dataset, the Health Department was able to compare it with local data from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, the School District of Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health Vital Statistics.
Washington said a large portion of time was dedicated to drawing neighborhood boundaries in order to evaluate the data.
“A lot of this was really the recognition that people think [of Philadelphia] in terms of neighborhoods,” Washington said. “So having our health reporting be able to align with neighborhoods makes sense.”
Although Health Department website already lists over 100 services available in the city, and OpenDataPhilly has multiple datasets on healthcare, this study is the first in Philly to list so many health factors on a scale as small as neighborhood. However, Washington said a few of the city’s least populated neighborhoods are left out so as not to skew the data.
Washington said the report shows the structural, economic and environmental factors affecting neighborhood health.
“It really points to where our greatest opportunities to improve health in the city are,” Washington said. “That national storyline in Philadelphia is that Philadelphia ranks worse … and the reality is that’s not the case for every neighborhood in Philly. We’re really focusing our efforts on those neighborhoods where those neighborhoods are experiencing disproportional outcome.”-30-