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.
News + Media
Media coverage for COVID-19 research
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]
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.
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
Presented the Health of Houston’s Survey on Asian American Population at the Region VI Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Health Summit 2020 for the Asian American Health Coalition of the Greater Houston Area.
Presented the Health of Houston Survey on Harris County at the Class XXXIX Health & Wellness Learning Session for Leadership Houston
Podcasts and Streaming Courses
Knowledge Translation Podcast
A core mission of the Institute for Health Policy is find ways to “bridge” the gap between public health researchers and decision-makers in health policy by translating science-based knowledge into meaningful information for action. In the early 1990s, the first systematic initiatives in this knowledge translation task were undertaken by Canadian research institutions and grant-makers. Their concepts of translation and exchange eventually crossed the 48th Parallel to be split into two activities, known by US grant-makers as Community Engagement and Implementation & Dissemination. While there is some overlap, not all of the Canadian experience in KT was adopted here.
Through our knowledge translation (KT) audio podcast series, we want to preserve the insights, experience and lessons learned by those who were part of the founding efforts in KT and to supplement these with complementary perspectives from practitioners in the US. You will find sixteen 30-minute episodes, recorded and edited here at the IHP. Brief descriptions of the speakers and links to their conversations appear below. All of the podcasts are free to stream or to download.
KT Audio Podcasts coming soon!
Health Policy Streaming Course
In the Fall of 2017, Drs. Linder and Garson, then with the Health Policy Institute of the Texas Medical Center, convened a planning group to develop a course in healthcare policy that would engage volunteers from TMC member institutions. The idea was to take on pressing policy issues affecting TMC institutions, pose questions, and facilitate a discussion between expert panelists and a live audience. The 90-minute sessions were live-streamed and recorded. Seven TMC academic institutions adopted the course for graduate credit and supplemented the recorded sessions with discussions and supplemental readings, identified by the panel participants each week.
The course was offered in 2018 and 2019, consisting of 13 weekly sessions each year. The topics changed from year-to-year, as did the panelists, but the audience engagement remained central. The IHP is pleased to host all 26 sessions, as the topics remain timely.
TMC Health Policy Course 2019
Co-Directors, Stephen H. Linder, Ph.D. and Arthur "Tim" Garson, Jr. MD, MPH, MACC
Weeks 1 - 13
TMC Health Policy Course 2018
Co-Directors, Stephen H. Linder, Ph.D. and Arthur "Tim" Garson, Jr. MD, MPH, MACC
Weeks 1 - 13
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
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
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. 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:
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
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.
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 Questionnaires and Codebooks
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)
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
Publications and presentations with HHS data
Browse a collection of journal articles, fact sheets and presentations using Health of Houston Survey data.
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
The Greater Houston Community Panel
The Greater Houston Community Panel is a joint initiative of UTHealth Houston Institute for Health Policy (at the School of Public Health), Rice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research, and the Houston Health Department that aims to engage Houstonians on issues that affect the Houston metropolitan area.
The panel is made up of a diverse group of randomly selected adult individuals who reflect the social, economic, and demographic makeup of the Houston community. We frequently invite panel members to participate in surveys on an array of topics, such as public health, education, and community development. Panel members respond via web or phone interviews, in either English or Spanish.
The insights provided by the panel are used as a barometer of the health status, opinions, and attitudes of Houstonians which better inform and guide decision-making and future planning by local officials, community groups, and other organizations. As such, it plays an important function in promoting civic engagement and ensuring that the voices of Houstonians on key and timely issues are represented in local policy and decision-making. A platform such as this help foster a more informed and inclusive community.
The project is funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through a grant from the Houston Health Department. Listed below are surveys fielded to the Greater Houston Community Panel with PUDFs available here. Read more about the panel and other surveys from our partners at Rice University.
The Covid-19 Surveys provide insights into people’s experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic, the pandemic impact on physical and mental health, household finances, and personal employment. For households with children, it sheds light on certain aspects of children’s experiences and coping mechanisms during the pandemic. Participants are members of the Greater Houston Community Panel (GHCP), which is constructed to reflect, as accurately as possible, the socio-demographic composition of Houston’s community.
First Covid-19 Survey
- Data and variables
Second Covid-19 Survey (coming in 2024)
- Data and variables
Population Survey Repository (draft in progress)
The Institute for Health Policy maintains a repository of databases for our region drawn from population surveys. It features downloadable Public Use Data Files from the Health of Houston and COVID Impact Surveys. Other surveys will be added as they become available