We squeezed a lot of great guidance into our 30-minute session with Brenda Battle, System Vice President of Community Health Transformation, and Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer at University of Chicago Medicine.

As a national leader, we didn’t want you to miss Brenda’s insights on how UChicago Medicine looked at community health, mental health and the generational divide.  While it’s common to stratify for race and ethnicity in a community health needs assessment (CHNA), University of Chicago Medicine wanted to add a layer to the analysis for their 2022 CHNA work with Metopio.

“This was our fourth CHNA and this time we wanted to understand across age groups for individuals in our community to see what were the differences in the needs,” Brenda started.

“With Metopio’s help, for the first time, we were able to segregate age groups. We’re able to see what’s happening with kids up to 17 years old, what’s happening with folks from 18 to 64, and what’s happening with folks that are seniors, over 65. We were really willing to understand, do they have the same needs? Are they prioritizing the same way?”

And – they are not – or not necessarily according to Brenda. “There are some things that cross all age groups, but we’ve found out is they are not prioritizing health needs the same way. It was very interesting to realize that.”

Listening and learning to make sense of mental health and more

Stratifying by age helps organizations to understand macro health conditions, like mental health, in a much more nuanced way.

The other thing that surprised us was that mental health did show up across all the age groups, but it showed up differently,” said Brenda. “For seniors, it was really around loneliness and belonging. As we spoke with senior citizens, they were very clear, like I’m not depressed, I’m lonely, and because of COVID, I can’t hang out with my friends, and because of crime, I don’t walk down the street, and because of those two things, I’m lonely. You can see how that compounds, and then we can solve for loneliness because we have a very specific understanding of that community context in a new way.”

Focus groups and informant interviews revealed distinct mindsets in the other age groups as well.

“For youth, it was really the depression, the impact of COVID, the impact of violence, and not knowing how to manage relationships coming out of COVID and going back to school,” she explains. “With adults, it was the issues of poverty and violence and just a compounding thing. With those insights, we can focus interventions around mental health and resiliency, based upon the needs and the age groups.”

According to Brenda, the findings also have larger implications for health systems and communities.

“It really says that the community knows what they need. The community really does understand the issues that they’re facing, which is why institutions in these communities have to listen to the community and not just assume that secondary data is going to inform us of what our community really needs. It’s a combination of both.”

To learn more about creating these kind of insights for your next CHNA, please schedule a strategy session with our team. You can also hear more from Brenda in our on-demand webinar.