National Academies committee prioritizes non-clinical health measures in Healthy People 2030

Published January 24, 2020 by Seun Ajiboye

A committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recommends several non-clinical measures as leading health indicators, or LHIs, for Healthy People 2030.

Healthy People is a national health monitoring and goal-setting program that has been in existence for over 30 years. LHIs are a group of “high-priority measures” that enable public health officials and researchers to track the health of the nation. The committee, charged with providing independent advice to Health and Human Services (HHS), recommends 34 LHIs, an increase from the 26 in Healthy People 2020.

The committee’s process is described in report released on Wednesday. The chosen LHIs are intended to more proportionally reflect the impacts of non-medical determinants of health and to incorporate a life course perspective. Therefore, the committee recommends LHIs like civic engagement, measured by the proportion of eligible voters who actually vote; residential segregation as this has been shown to affect health and environmental measures such as heat vulnerability, reflecting the impact of climate change on health. These LHIs are consistent with the Healthy People 2030 Framework, which includes creating healthier environments as one of the its pillars.

One of the recommended LHIs is oral health access and is drawn directly from the draft oral health core objective to “increase the proportion of children, adolescents and adults who use the oral health care system”, which is similar to the oral health LHI for Healthy People 2020.  Eighteen other recommended LHIs are also drawn directly from the draft core objectives, which are high priority, measurable health objectives. Although there is only one recommended oral health LHI, others have oral health implications, such as the those on HIV, reducing tobacco use among adolescents – including use of vaping products – and encapsulating social determinants of health. AADR previously provided input on the proposed objectives in 2019.

HHS will now work to finalize the Healthy People 2030 objectives and LHIs in 2021. AADR will continue to monitor the development of Healthy People 2030 and provide updates to membership, including opportunities to provide input.