The Community Guide: Identifying Evidence-Based Approaches to Achieve Healthy People 2030 Objectives

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By Amy Lansky, PhD, MPH, Director of The Community Guide Office, Office of the Associate Director for Policy and Strategy, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This guest post is part of Healthy People in Action, a blog series highlighting how key partners use the Healthy People framework in their work, form cross-sector collaborations, and address social determinants of health to help achieve health equity.

In this post, the authors discuss the partnership between Healthy People 2030 and The Community Guide, which exemplifies how federal programs can work together to support health professionals and improve the health and safety of our nation.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services manages both Healthy People 2030 and The Community Guide. For more than 25 years, the Healthy People initiative and the Community Guide have collaborated to prioritize health objectives and identify evidence-based approaches to achieve them.

How Do the Programs Work Together?

Since 1980, Healthy People has set science-based, 10-year health promotion and disease prevention objectives for improving the health of all Americans. These benchmarks aim to encourage collaboration across communities and sectors, empower individuals to make informed health decisions, and help communities assess progress toward health targets.

The Community Guide is a collection of evidence-based recommendations and findings from the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF), an independent, nonfederal panel of 15 public health prevention experts.

CPSTF issues recommendations and findings based on rigorous systematic reviews of effectiveness and economic evidence for programs, services, and policies implemented in real-world settings. These settings include communities, worksites, schools, faith-based organizations, military bases, public health clinics and departments, and integrated health care systems.

The Community Guide Office, housed in the Office of the Associate Director for Policy and Strategy at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provides scientific and administrative support to CPSTF.

Every 5 years, CPSTF uses a data-driven process to select priority topics. CPSTF begins the process by considering all the Healthy People topics. Once CPSTF prioritizes topic areas and selects intervention approaches for review, Community Guide scientists work with a team of researchers and subject matter experts to conduct systematic reviews of effectiveness and economic evidence.

CPSTF considers the results of these reviews and determines whether to recommend the intervention approaches — or whether the approaches need further study (a finding of “insufficient evidence”).

CPSTF issues recommendations for evidence-based intervention approaches that communities and decision makers can implement to move the dial on Healthy People objectives. These intervention approaches help improve health and safety in communities and drive progress toward Healthy People’s national objectives and targets.

Crosswalks: Highlighting the Intersections Between Objectives and Recommendations

To facilitate connections between Healthy People objectives and evidence-based recommendations from The Community Guide, the 2 programs work together to provide crosswalks, or links, between the resources. These crosswalks make it easier for health professionals and others to connect the dots between Healthy People 2030 objectives and the specific CPSTF recommendations for intervention approaches that could help achieve the nation’s health goals.

On The Community Guide website, review summaries link to relevant Healthy People objectives. On the Healthy People 2030 site, CPSTF recommendations are featured as evidence-based resources within each of the topic areas and are linked to specific Healthy People 2030 objectives when appropriate.

The examples below demonstrate ways health professionals can use these crosswalks to inform decisions and set priorities.

Helping Americans Quit

In July 2020, CPSTF released a recommendation for internet-based tobacco cessation interventions to increase the number of people who successfully quit using tobacco. Evidence from the systematic review showed improvements in cessation 6 or more months after interventions among adults who used tobacco.

The recommendation was posted on The Community Guide website along with evidence from the systematic review, supporting materials, user-friendly resources to help communities share information, and crosswalks to these Healthy People 2030 objectives:

State or local health department employees developing plans to reduce current tobacco use in adults might review relevant evidence-based resources on the Healthy People site and see that CPSTF recommends internet-based tobacco cessation interventions.

They could follow the link to The Community Guide website and learn more about the recommendation, effectiveness evidence, and applicability to different population groups. They could also learn about considerations for implementation and find tools to help them get started.

Enlisting Community Health Workers to Increase Cancer Screening

In February 2020, CPSTF released a recommendation for interventions engaging community health workers to increase breast cancer screening, cervical cancer screening, and colorectal cancer screening. Evidence from systematic reviews showed that interventions were effective when community health workers were engaged independently or as part of a team. In addition, these interventions were cost-effective for cervical and colorectal cancers.

The Community Guide posted the recommendations online along with supporting materials and crosswalks to these Healthy People 2030 objectives:

Public health departments looking to link cancer prevention and control programs to Healthy People objectives could start with The Community Guide website. They could look up the intervention approaches they’re using and find out which Healthy People objectives are linked to these approaches. This may be especially useful for departments seeking to use evidence-based approaches that align with Healthy People objectives to meet accreditation criteria or qualify for particular funding opportunities.

Future Recommendations

The Community Guide has more than 230 recommendations and findings across 21 topic areas, and systematic reviews are ongoing. New CPSTF findings are added to The Community Guide throughout the year, and the recommendations are added as evidence-based resources to the Healthy People site.

We encourage you to stay informed about the latest developments by subscribing to receive emails from The Community Guide. You choose the topic areas of interest to you, and we’ll notify you about new recommendations, implementation resources, and Community Guide in Action stories that feature communities and decision makers across the country who have used CPSTF findings to improve population health in their community.

You can also follow us on Twitter @CPSTF.

The findings and conclusions in this post are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Krista Hopkins Cole, MPH, Health Communication Specialist (Cherokee Nation Operational Solutions), and Takeydra Jones, MPH, ORISE Fellow, contributed to this post.

Categories: health.gov Blog
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