About the Institute for Health Policy
Texans are faced with serious risks to health, rising health care costs and an overburdened health care delivery system. We need solutions to health problems and leaders informed about health matters. The Institute for Health Policy translates research findings into practical advice for problem-solving, by fostering more productive exchanges between the worlds of academic research and of public health problems and policy concerns.
Scope of work
- Bridging and Brokering to contribute to improving the health of the public by developing creative ways to bridge the gap between scientific research, practitioners and policymakers and brokering opportunities for mutual support.
- Analysis to provide useful and reliable knowledge for health policy and problem solving based on both the translation of scholarly work and periodic assessments of health trends throughout the state.
- Design and Development to develop effective strategies for the design, communication and dissemination of viable policy solutions and to build the collaboration necessary to make those solutions more effective.
- Education and Communication to equip the next generation of health policy leaders with the skills necessary to use scholarly inquiry and to inform research questions with policy knowledge.
More Efficient Use of Research Assets: “Bridge and Broker”
Having a centralized mechanism for translating research findings and disseminating them to potential users saves each research project the expense of creating its own capacity and learning how to make it work. The Institute is uniquely designed to perform this “bridging” function.
Moreover, when policy issues arise or practical problems become known, instead of relying on haphazard contacts to draw the attention of researchers, the Institute is ideally suited to “brokering” requests to those best able to meet them. As noted, the bridging and brokering can work in both directions. Research findings can also be brokered to potential users, and bridges can be built and maintained between health policy action and academic study.
Bridging the gap between policy and practice
Current areas of focus include: improving the evidence base of health policymaking, population studies on health needs, enhancing regulatory science and environmental health policy, innovations in interprofessional education for the next generation of health professionals, and access to health care, both nationally and internationally. The Institute for Health Policy has also been an active participant in the Texas Public Health Policy Forum, the 2005 BioTexas Summit, the 2004 Media Science Forum and Research! America.
City and state analysis
- 2018 Harvey Report press release.
- The State of Health in Houston/Harris County Executive Summary 2012
- Public Health Impact of Heat Exposure
- 2010 IHP Annual Report Research Into Action Project
- 2008 IHP Annual Report Research Into Action Project
- Research Into Action (RIA) Brochure
- Research Into Action: Building A Community of Knowledge Translation Professionals
- Translation and Dissemination paper
- Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment booklet
- Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment presentation
- Cigarette Taxes and Their Proposed Uses: Support Among Smokers and Nonsmokers in Different Income Groups in Texas
- A Closer Look at Air Pollution in Houston: Identifying Priority Health Risks (Report of the Mayor’s Task Force on the Health Effects of Air Pollution)
- Health Outcome Databases
The costs of underinsurance or uninsurance
- Education and Health: A Review and Assessment, taken from Code Red: The Critical Condition of Health in Texas
- Behavioral Risk Factor Survey Poster: Disparities in Medical Debt and Access to Care
Health of Houston Survey
The Health of Houston Survey (HHS) is the largest health survey of adults and children in Harris County and the City of Houston. The survey is a valuable source of statistics on health, health care and insurance, cancer screening, mental health, health behaviors and neighborhood conditions at county, city and neighborhood levels. The HHS is used for documenting unmet needs, identifying disparities in health, resource targeting, documenting community benefits and strategic planning. In each survey, a representative sample of residents of the Houston area across sub-county areas, as well as across groups defined by race and ethnicity, poverty level and gender, is selected and interviewed. The first HHS was conducted in 2010, the second was completed in 2018. Survey data is free and accessible through a web-based, interactive and user-friendly interface.
The Houston Endowment and UTHealth supported the survey in 2010. Support for the 2018 survey was provided by:
- Houston Endowment
- Episcopal Health Foundations
- Texas Children’s Hospital
- Memorial Hermann Health System
- Community Health Choice/Harris Health System
- UTHealth, President’s Excellence Fund
- UTHealth School of Public Health, Office of the Dean
- Texas Medical Center, Health Policy Institute
Maps of Health Indicators
Single Indicator Map in InstantAtlas, which includes area percentages, maps and rankings. There is an exporting option is available for presentations.
View the Area Profile Map in InstantAtlas, which includes sub-county area profiles. The 2018 data and a new geography of 38 Harris County Public Use Microdata Areas will be added soon. For updates, please contact us.
Tables and Data
In 2017-18, HHS employed a dual-frame Random Digit Dialing sample design, using a combination of landline phones and cellphones. Half-way to completion, in August 2017, it had to pause due to Harvey-related flooding. The survey resumed again in February 2018, at which time questions on how the Hurricane impacted the lives of Houstonians, such as flooding and property damage, income, employment, evacuation, assistance/aid and recovery, were added. Few questions that were not part of core questionnaire were eliminated.
HHS Topics & Questionnaires
The 2018 questionnaire is largely based in 2010 questions, the core of which we preserved for data comparability across years. New items were solicited via email from all the stakeholders involved in providing topics in 2010 and data users. Flooding from Hurricane Harvey prompted the need to add new Harvey-related questions mid-survey, which were asked to the sample interviewed six to nine months after Harvey.
The HHS questionnaire was created to match the health information needs of organizations that work to improve Houston area residents’ health. In 2009, we invited local organizations and health authorities to provide suggestions on topic priorities. We also solicited suggestions based on community priorities from all Super Neighborhood Councils in the City of Houston and the civic associations. To see a summary of the results of the feedback please see our Input Summary Fact Sheet, or read more about the questionnaire development.
- 2018 Topics
- 2018 Phone (CATI) questionnaire
- 2010 Topics
- 2010 Phone (CATI)/web questionnaire
- 2010 Mail questionnaire
Mapping the Houston Area
HHS 2018 Files
HHS 2010 Files
- Mapping the Houston area by zip code (Excel file)
- Copies of UTHealth School of Public Health files for mapping programs (zip file)
- Zip code areas (letter-size, legal-size)
Publications & Presentations
The Health of Houston Survey presentations, reports, questionnaires and survey promotional materials are available for download and printing.
- HHS2018 Summary Report
- HHS2018 Methodology Report
- HHS2010 Summary Report
- HHS2010 Methodology Report
- Stakeholders’ Input Summary
- Assessing Health Information Priorities of Stakeholders and Community Groups in Houston
Linder SH, Marko D, Tian Y and Wisniewski T. 2018 A Population-Based Approach to Mapping Vulnerability to Diabetes. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 15(10): 2167.
Linder SH, Anna-Maria V, Wisniewski T, Hesseldal L, Napier AD. 2018 Understanding Social and Cultural Factors Associated with Composite Vulnerability to Better Inform Community Intervention Strategies: Cities Changing Diabetes in Houston. Int Arch Public Health Community Med 2:016.
Ramos Gomez-Rejon C, Begley CE, Franzini L, Brown III HS. 2017 Access to Care of Low-Income Adults: Local Safety Nets Compared With Medicaid. Tex Med;113(9):e1.
Calo WA, Vernon SW, Lairson DR, Linder SH. 2016 Area-level Socioeconomic Inequalities in the Use of Mammography Screening: A Multilevel Analysis of the Health of Houston Survey. Women's Health Issues. 26(2):201-207.
Kao D, Carvalho Gulati A, Lee RE. 2016 Physical Activity among Asian American Adults in Houston, Texas: Data from the Health of Houston Survey 2010. J Immigr Minor Health;18(6):1470-1481.
Kathryn Freeman Anderson. 2018 Racial/Ethnic Residential Segregation, the Distribution of Physician’s Offices and Access to Health Care: The Case of Houston, Texas. Social Sciences, vol. 7(8), pages 1-18.
Calo WA, Vernon SW, Lairson DR, Linder SH. 2015 Associations between contextual factors and colorectal cancer screening in a racially and ethnically diverse population in Texas; 39(6):798-804.
Marko D, Linder SH, Tullar JM, Reynolds TF, Estes LJ. 2015 Predictors of Serious Psychological Distress in an Urban Population. Community Ment Health J.51(6):708-14.
Thomas Brassell, Kristie Healey, James Dayton, Randal ZuWallack, Dritana Marko, Stephen Linder, Thomas Reynolds. When to Use Non-Probability. An evaluation of the use of a non-probability mobile panel in a post-disaster area in comparison to a probability sample. Presentation at FedCASIC, 2018 Annual Conference, Suitland, MD.
Randal ZuWallack, Yangyang Deng, Thomas Brassell, Dritana Marko, Stephen Linder, Thomas Reynolds. Rebuilding the frame post-disaster. Assessing the impact of infrastructure damage to landline in Houston. 2018. Presentation at FedCASIC, 2018 Annual Conference, Suitland, MD
Naomi Freedner-Maguire (ICF). How Disasters Change Respondents – An evaluation of Changes in Self-reported Health of Houston Residents after Hurricane Harvey. 2018 AAPOR Annual Conference
Bonnie Chu. Harris County Animal Overpopulation Crisis and Health Equity. APHA 2018. Harris County Public Health, Houston, TX.
Estes LJ, Tullar TM, Marko D, Reynolds TF, and Linder SH. Mental Health Status and Access among Adults in the Houston Area. APHA 2011.
Tullar TM, Marko D, Estes LJ, Reynolds TF, and Linder SH. Creating an informed network of community partners: Health of Houston Survey 2010. APHA 2011.
Key faculty and staff
- Stephen Linder, PhD - Faculty and Principal Investigator
- Dritana Marko, MD - Faculty and Project Director
- Jessica Tullar, PhD - Faculty and Survey Epidemiologist
- Tom Reynolds, PhD - Research and Technical Support
- Patty Poole - Administrative Support
For more information about the Health of Houston Survey, contact Dr. Dritana Marko at Dritana.Marko@uth.tmc.edu or 210-276-9041.
Institute for Health Policy
The University of Texas School of Public Health
P.O. Box 20186
Houston, TX 77225
News + Media
Media coverage for COVID-19 research
Led research revealing the areas of Texas' major metro cities where residents are at greatest risk for hospitalization and critical care treatment due to COVID-19, that was covered by KXAN-TV Channel 36 in Austin during the 10 p.m.and 4 a.m. The story was shared
Interviewed by NBC KXAS-TV Channel 5 in Dallas and the Dallas Morning News about research he led showing what areas of the city have the highest concentration of risk factors for severe and critical cases of COVID-19 requiring hospitalization and intensive care. The story was shared on the station's website. Read more in UTHealth News
Exclusive report and interview with NBC DFW Channel 5 about the Dallas Neighborhoods at Greatest Risk for Severe COVID-19 Cases
Study discoveries reported in D Magazine, Where Covid-19 is Likely to Strike Hardest in Dallas
Interviewed by the Houston Chronicle for the areas of Harris County are at highest risk from coronavirus
Interviewed by ABC KTRK Channel 13 for investigating if Texas hospitals are ready for steep rise in COVID-19 cases
Interviewed by ABC KTRK-TV Channel 13 examining what demographic data is important in understanding why the virus is impacting minorities at higher rates.
Wrote a report showing areas of Houston where residents are most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19 that was included in a Vice story how the virus affects people who live in areas with higher levels of air pollutants. Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia was quoted about the study
Interviewed by ABC KTRK-Channel 13 differentiating Corona Virus Deaths, explaining why African Americans are making up the majority of COVID-19 deaths in Houston
Interviewed by CBS KHOU-TV Channel 11 showing how UTHealth maps out where high levels of care are likely needed for COVID-19 in large Texas cities. The Institute for Health Policy's study looked at populations of a certain age, and those who have chronic diseases, including heart, lung disease and diabetes.
Reported by MSN News, UTHealth maps out where high levels of care likely needed for COVID-19 in large Texas cities
Interview by the Center for Houston’s Future Leadership Webcast Series discussing how disparities shape the effects of COVID-19 on various communities. Watch Episode 5: A Conversation with Dr. Stephen Linder
Investigative interview by CBS KHOU-11, 'Disasters do discriminate' | COVID-19 rates higher in poverty or minority Houston-area neighborhoods. The story was also posted on the KHOU website .
News release issued by the Houston Health Department for “Houston's COVID-19 response focuses on access and equity, contact tracing,” mentions the research led by Linder on the populations in Houston most likely to develop a severe case of COVID-19
Mapping risk factors for severe COVID-19 in Texas metro areas
The Institute for Health Policy has created maps of the risk factors associated with severe COVID-19 disease for cities and counties in Texas.
COVID-19 Fact Sheets
IHP Mailing Address
Institute for Health Policy
The University of Texas School of Public Health
P.O. Box 20186
Houston, TX 77225
Sr. Administrative Coordinator
Patty Poole, M.S.