This study was conducted by the Center for Housing and Community Studies (CHCS) of the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG) in response to a request from the Health Collaborative, a cross-sector group of residents working together to improve the health and well-being of the Dan River Region. The study reflects a process of community engagement and provides a health equity assessment and health equity report for the Dan River Region, building upon the Danville Pittsylvania County Health Needs Assessment and the Dan River Region Health Equity Report, both conducted in 2017 by the Health Collaborative.

A health equity assessment is a process used by public health organizations to determine priorities, make improvements, or allocate resources on the basis of inequalities in health outcomes. It may be used to determine gaps between community health assets and needs of residents disproportionately impacted by health issues. The health equity assessment process is collaborative, proactive, multisector, and data driven. It provides an opportunity for building stakeholder support, engaging residents and social service agencies, eliciting health system feedback, and promoting community support. It also provides an opportunity to identify barriers that health impacted communities face in accessing primary health services or addressing Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) such as economic stability, educational and employment opportunities, healthy housing, nutritious foods, active lifestyles, and overall wellbeing.

The Dan River Regional Health Collaborative is a cross-sector group of residents and institutions working to improve the health and well-being of the Dan River Region. To accomplish this work, they have built teams of dedicated volunteers to work on the topics of healthy eating, active living, access to healthcare and creating healthy spaces. In 2017, the Health Collaborative released its first Health Equity Report. Data for the report was gathering data from secondary sources such as the Virginia Department of Health, the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture as well as from residents through a community health survey, key informant interviews, and focus groups.

Over the course of more than a year (Sep 2020 – Oct 2021), CHCS researchers conducted a community-engaged process to collect data, engage residents, and identify common themes while updating data from the 2017 Health Equity Report. The process was overseen by a Steering Committee comprised of representatives from the Health Collaborative and those stakeholders engaged in community health work. This report includes primary and secondary data on the Social Determinants of Health. Qualitative data from focus groups and interviews were used to support and explain quantitative data from public and private national, state, county, and municipal sources. CHCS staff collected local primary data from residents and experts. A multi-modal community survey was also conducted using both paper and web-based forms to reach respondents. Primary data is supplemented by analysis of social, economic, and demographic data from federal, state and local sources as well as administrative data including County Health Departments, police and sheriff departments, the CDC, state vital records offices, and subscription data (such as PolicyMap, MRI Consumer Survey US, Simmons LOCAL US, etc).

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