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Plan Evaluations from the American Planning Association

The American Planning Association recently released a report, Healthy Planning, evaluating 22 comprehensive and sustainability plans in terms of health issues. Funded by the CDC this report looks at 22 plan documents. As the APA’s web site web site states: “The evaluation assessed the extent to which these plans addressed public health through six broad health-related planning topics:

  • Active Living
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Environmental Exposures
  • Food and Nutrition
  • Health and Human Services
  • Social Cohesion and Mental Health”

Its an interesting report downloadable at http://www.planning.org/research/publichealth/pdf/evaluationreport.pdf. Anna Ricklin, the current manager of APA’s Planning and Community Health Research Center led the team creating the report. The plans were selected from a 2012 survey that had identified 890 plans using mentioning public health and 45 additional plans identified by the CDC. Plans were selected because they covered a wide range of health topics and also geographical diversity (urban, rural, county, city, etc). The report doesn’t present evaluations of individual plans but examines how many of the plans covered particular topics and issues. It does, however, identify lists of top plan e.g. for active living  top jurisdictions included Baltimore County, Washington, DC, and Fort Worth and for food and nutrition the top places where Alachua County (FL), the Oneida Nation, and Baltimore County.  A next phase of the project will look in greater depth at some specific case studies.

 

A number of my Cornell students worked on the report with APA (acknowledged on page 4).

Tools: Food Security Assessments

 

Oakland, California (Photo by Ann Forsyth)
The topic of food and planning is one of great interest—particularly promoting healthy food options. Of course what people eat is a complicated result of their personal preferences, financial resources, and social context. Food availability depends on climate, the time of year, whether people grow their own food, how much it costs, home food storage options, and the kinds of stores in the local area.
However, a number of tools can help larger communities plan for their food access.
  • One such tool is the Food Security Assessment. In 2002, the USDA Economic Research Service published a well-known Community Food Security Toolkit: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/EFAN02013/ with the entire toolkit at http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/efan02013/efan02013.pdf. There are other toolkits around, with many good tools developed for use internationally in areas likely to suffer substantial food shortages, but this one by aU.S. government agency may be a good place for others to start.
  • The USDA web site provides helpful information about food security in the U.S.: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/FoodSecurity/. A 2007 USDA Food Security Assessment provides an example at the international level: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/GFA19/. However, using the methods in the toolkit, local communities can do this as well.
The food security assessment and other food related tools are discussed in the DFH Food Issues Sheet at http://designforhealth.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Information_Sheet/BCBS_ISFood_090107.pdf based on research outlined in the Food Key Questions research summary http://designforhealth.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Key_Questions/BCBS_KQFood_082207.pdf.

Free Articles on Health and Environments

For those not at universities, finding research on the connections between health and places can be a bit tricky. However, a growing number of online resources are meeting these needs. The entry below lists just a few of  these:

Several research funders provide free access to journals:
Some government agencies who fund and use research have online databases, including free downloads:
  • The U.S. Transportation Research Board’s Transportation Research Information Service (TRIS) is a terrific database of transportation resources, some related to health and some of these available for free: http://tris.trb.org/.
There are a number of free online journals. Many are newer.

  • Examples of journals with where authors pay fees, include the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (http://www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph) and the International Journal of Health Geographics (http://www.ij-healthgeographics.com/). I have reviewed for the latter (for free) but have mixed feelings about this approach of charging to publish, although it is common in the sciences.
  • In planning the online journals with free submission and publication are in related areas such as transport and include the Journal of Transport and Land Use (https://www.jtlu.org/index.php/jtlu).
Other groups provide research summaries. Design for Health’s own research summaries provide accessible summaries of research on various health topics, as of 2007 and 2008: http://www.designforhealth.net/resources/researchsummaries.html. There are others that I will highlight in upcoming blogs.
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