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DC Health Releases Community Health Needs Assessment

Thursday, February 13, 2020
Interactive Report Includes Community Assets and Resources

(Washington, DC) – Today, the DC Department of Health (DC Health) released the 2019 District of Columbia Community Health Needs Assessment (DC CHNA), a comprehensive analysis of a series of health indicators and outcomes that describe the overall health status and quality of life for District residents.

Key health indicators were compiled and analyzed by ward, race/ethnicity, age, gender, and sexual identity including life expectancy, leading causes of death, infant mortality, social and economic factors, risk patterns, the physical environment and clinical care.

“This needs assessment will serve as a tool to better understand the current health status and context of District residents,” said Dr. LaQuandra S. Nesbitt, Director, DC Health. “The DC CHNA helps us and our community partners in identifying the best strategies for leveraging assets and serving the needs of the many populations living in the District.”

The DC CHNA is a continuation of the community health improvement cycle that created DC Healthy People 2020 (DC HP2020) and its corresponding goals, objectives, targets and strategies. There are 20 priority objectives, Leading Health Indicators (LHIs), that are tracked based on their progress toward the established 2020 target.

Overall, progress has been positive in achieving the DC HP2020 targets for the 20 LHIs:

  • 1 indicator (5%) has met the 2020 target:
    • treatment for co-occurring substance use and mental disorders
  • 10 indicators (50%) are improving:
    • preventative health care
    • food access
    • cancer detection
    • controlled hypertension
    • vaccination rates of children aged 19-35 months
    • high school graduation rates
    • proportion of people living in poverty
    • new HIV infections
    • older adult health
    • preventative dental care
  • 3 indicators (15%) show little or no change:
    • child and adolescent obesity
    • infant mortality rate
    • pre-term births
  • 1 indicator (5%) has new baseline/data:
    • tobacco use among adolescents in grades 9-12
  • 5 indicators (25%) are getting worse:
    • depression among adolescents aged 12-17 years old
    • homicide rate among 20-24 year-olds
    • fatal injuries (including unintentional overdoses)
    • controlled diabetes
    • LGBTQ youth in grades 9-12 threatened or harmed

An important part of the community input for the DC CHNA was a resident survey conducted by DC Health and the DC Hospital Association. When asked what the most important health issues that affect their community are, participants responded similarly to the priorities in DC HP2020: Housing, Addiction/Substance Use, Mental Health, Violence Prevention, and Access to Healthcare.

The DC CHNA will serve as a foundation for the DC Healthy People 2030 development process, which will look to collectively improve population health and equity in the District over the next decade.

More detailed information about each LHI can be found on the corresponding DC CHNA webpages at