UTH

Institute for
Health Policy

Providing information and analysis to support more effective public health policy and better healthcare. Home of the Health of Houston Survey.

About the Institute for Health Policy

Purpose

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.

Our research 

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

Knowledge translation 

Substance use

Air pollution

  • 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

Noise pollution

Physical activity

Health of Houston Survey

Overview 

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. You can review our most commonly asked questions in our FAQ Sheet

The Houston Endowment and UTHealth supported the survey in 2010. Support for the 2018 survey was provided by:

Houston Endowment
Episcopal Health Foundation
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

1SingleAreaIndicator

Maps of Health Indicators

View the Single Indicator Map in InstantAtlas, which includes area percentages, maps and rankings. There is an exporting option available for presentations. For more information about how to use InstantAtlas, click here.

1AreaProfile

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 have been added. For updates, please contact us at HealthofHouston@uth.tmc.edu.

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Tables and Data

View the data and construct tables in Nesstar. To download the data in Nesstar, complete public use file data agreement form and send it to HealthofHouston@uth.tmc.edu.

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PUMA Aggregated Estimates

We have aggregated survey data into 38 US Census Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs) to facilitate the use of health indicators at subcounty level. Get the estimates.

HHS Methodology

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.

Mapping the Houston Area

HHS 2018 Files
  • Mapping the Houston area by PUMAs (Excel file)
  • HHS 2018 PUMAs (map)
HHS 2010 Files

Survey Reports

The Health of Houston Survey presentations, reports, questionnaires and survey promotional materials are available for download and printing.

Publications and presentations with HHS data

Browse a collection of journal articles, fact sheets and presentations using Health of Houston Survey data.

Contact HHS

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.

Mailing address

Institute for Health Policy
The University of Texas School of Public Health
P.O. Box 20186
Houston, TX 77225
Email: HealthofHouston@uth.tmc.edu 

News + Media

Media coverage for COVID-19 research

NPR

Interviewed by NPR-affiliated KERA News in Dallas about the lack of COVID-19 testing sites in neighborhoods where higher concentrations of vulnerable populations live. The story was picked up by NPR national, and mentioned on NPR's Morning Edition and the podcast Up First. [Listen to Up First Audio Clip at 10.30 min at story for Texas Testing Disparity]

Leadership Houston

Interviewed by Leadership Houston: Watch A Conversation with Dr. Stephen H. Linder- LH Class XXXVIII Health and Wellness.

Center for Houston’s Future/Rice University

Panel discussion webinar with the Center for Houston’s Future Webcast Series discussing Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act.

Austin

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

Dallas

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

Houston

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 The Texas Observer  investigating why "COVID-19 Could Be a ‘Double Whammy’ for Those in Pollution Hotspots

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

Update of COVID-19 Severity in Houston Area Fact Sheet (en)

COVID-19 Severity in Harris County Fact Sheet (en)

COVID-19 Severity in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio Fact Sheet (en)

COVID-19 Severity in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio Fact Sheet (es)

Contact us

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.
Patricia.A.Poole@uth.tmc.edu
Tel:  713-500-9318

  • SEE OUR IMPACT

    Leading data collection effort aimed at reducing teen pregnancy

    The data collection effort, expected to take six months, is the second part of a yearlong planning phase to address the issue of pregnancy prevention among children in foster care. Melissa Peskin, PhD, associate professor with UTHealth School of Public Health, will lead the effort.

    READ MORESPH - Our Impact - CLYC slider

    Dr. Markham works with community partner. Photo by Aaron Nieto.
  • SEE OUR IMPACT

    Preventing and caring for HIV in homeless youth

     Alexis Sims, a doctoral student in health promotion and behavioral sciences at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health, has been awarded a $100,000 supplemental research grant from the National Institutes of Health to investigate HIV prevention and care in homeless youth.

    READ MORESPH - Our Impact - NIH funding for HIV

    Alexis Sims, MPH
  • SEE OUR IMPACT

    Alumnus appointed to Texas Radiation Advisory Board

     Dr. William “Will” Pate, was appointed to the Texas Radiation Advisory Board (TRAB) and will remain in this position until the end of his term on April 16, 2023. Dr. Pate is one of 10 Texas professionals appointed to this board.

    READ MORESPH - Our Impact - Pate

    William Pate
  • SEE OUR IMPACT

    Conducting needs assessments and "meeting people where they are"

    UTHealth School of Public Health researchers work to bridge that gap between what intervention programs offer versus what's needed by creating programs based on input from the individuals who have lived the experiences. 

    READ MORESPH - Our Impact - Meeting People Where They Are

    Vanessa Schick, PhD; and J. Michael Wilkerson, PhD, MPH
  • SEE OUR IMPACT

    Meeting the public health education needs of the Permian Basin community

    UTHealth School of Public Health and the University of Texas Permian Basin (UTPB) College of Business have partnered to provide graduate students with the opportunity to earn a Graduate Certificate in Public Health while simultaneously earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) beginning Spring 2020.

    READ MOREUTPB Partnership CertificateSPH - Our Impact - UTPB Partnership Certificate

    UTHealth School of Public Health Dean Eric Boerwinkle, PhD, UTPB President Dr. Sandra Woodley
  • SEE OUR IMPACT

    Carol Huber appointed to the Value Based Payment and Quality Improvement Advisory Committee for Texas

    Huber will serve as a member representing regional healthcare partnerships.

    READ MORESPH - Our Impact 2020 - Carol Huber appointed to Value Based Payment and Quality Improvement Advisory Committee for Texas

    Carol Huber
  • SEE OUR IMPACT

    Fighting back against the vaping epidemic among youth

    As e-cigarette use by young people reaches epidemic proportions, researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) have received a $3.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to conduct the first-ever assessment on the long-term results of a nationwide nicotine vaping prevention program for youth called CATCH My Breath.

    READ MORESPH - Our Impact - vaping epidemic

    Steven H. Kelder, PhD, MPH
  • SEE OUR IMPACT

    Understanding how one dose of the HPV vaccine may prevent infection

    A new study revealed that one dose of the HPV vaccine may prevent infection from the potential cancer-causing virus, according to research published in JAMA Network Open by UTHealth School of Public Health researchers.

    READ MORESPH - Our Impact - HPV dosage slider

    Study authors Ashish Deshmukh, PhD, MPH; and Kalyani Sonawane, PhD. Photo by Maricruz Kwon.
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