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We’re fully engaged in the social health of Long Island.

Vital Signs is a multiphase project that systematically identifies, tracks, and analyzes the social health of populations and communities in Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island. Initiated by Adelphi University President Robert A. Scott in 2004, it has the primary objective of developing a centralized resource to help inform policy and service provision and reduce social health disparities. As a campus-community partnership, Vital Signs reflects Adelphi’s ongoing commitment as an “engaged university,” and is affiliated with the Institute for Social Research and Community Engagement.

Statement on Vital Signs 2009 from New York State Senator Kemp Hannon:

During this tough economic climate, the immense pressure of providing food, shelter, and medical care for a family often takes a heavy toll on one’s mental and physical health. As the increase in suicide rates and child abuse reports suggest, social health on Long Island is a problem. I commend Adelphi for highlighting these important issues and for working with local and state officials in the development of long-term solutions.

Vital Signs 2009: Measuring Long Island’s Social Health (PDF 4.7 MB)
Data and Graphs (PDF 12 KB)
Media Advisory (PDF 30 KB)
Request a hard copy of the report

Primarily developed as a residential area after World War II, Long Island is now a mature suburb experiencing a period of significant change and facing challenges traditionally associated with urban centers, including an aging population, scarce unused land, congestion, lack of affordable housing, increasing ethnic and racial diversity, and growing income inequalities.

Created in response to these challenges, Vital Signs seeks to:

  • identify and make more visible the populations and communities challenged by, or at risk for, poor social health
  • identify factors that contribute to poor social health
  • assess Long Island’s capacity to address existent and emergent social health needs
  • establish benchmarks and track trends
  • stimulate collaborative research and service partnerships
  • facilitate dialogue among stakeholders
  • inform the allocation of resources and the development of health and social service policies and services.

Each phase of Vital Signs informs the next phase of data collection and analysis. For its inaugural report (June 2006), Vital Signs focused on 25 social health indicators analyzing regional and national secondary data sets to identify and track trends over time. In its second report (June 2007), Vital Signs examined 12 indicators to profile mental health and well-being on Long Island. In its third report (January 2008), Vital Signs conveyed findings from The Long Island Health Care Survey, a collaborative partnership with Nassau Health Care Corporation’s Institute for HealthCare Disparities and the Office of Strategic Planning of North Shore–LIJ Health System. The bilingual (English and Spanish) telephone survey of over 1,500 Long Island residents focused on health status, insurance coverage, and experiences accessing and using health care. The project’s May 2008 report, Long Island’s Immigrants: Health Status and Health Care Access, more closely examines health care access factors for foreign-born Long Islanders using data from the LIHCS. The latest report, Vital Signs 2009 (December 2009), analyzes 28 social health indicators in order to assess change since the 2006 report and to gain preliminary insight into the impact of the economic crisis on quality of life.

Vital Signs data have been presented at refereed conferences, as well as at regional forums and public hearings before the Nassau and Suffolk County Legislatures. They have also been used in a variety of reports (such as the New York State Berger Commission on Hospital Closings) and grant applications to enhance the region’s capacity to serve the needs of its residents. Vital Signs has received extensive media coverage, in such publications as the New York Times, Newsday, and The Nation, and on Long Island’s RNN TV and radio stations WHPC and WBLI.

The collaborative activities of Vital Signs have been supported by an advisory board and other community stakeholders who work in conjunction with Director of Community Research Dr. Sarah Eichberg to facilitate data collection and dialogue about the critical social health issues impacting Long Island.

Financial support for Vital Signs activities has been provided by Bank of America Foundation, Nassau University Medical Center, Office of Strategic Planning of North Shore Health System, the United Way, the Honorable New York State Senator Kemp Hannon, the Honorable New York State Assemblyman Thomas P. DiNapoli, and the Adelphi University Presidential Fund.

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