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Vital Signs

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 and the Center for Health Innovation.

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.

The release of Vital Signs 2014 also follows two crushing events: A prolonged recession and Hurricane Sandy. While previous Vital Signs data offered preliminary insight into the Great Recession’s impact on social health, this report allows for greater analysis of long-term effects. It also provides a first look at well-being during the region’s still fragile economic recovery. Finally, Vital Signs 2014 documents Hurricane Sandy’s widespread destruction and discusses important means to assess any lasting harm to social health. 

Vital Signs employs a mix of primary and secondary research methods. Through data collection, analysis and dissemination, 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.

Vital Signs has released 8 previous reports, independently or in partnership. In it’s inaugural report (June 2006), Vital Signs focused on 25 social health indicators to establish a baseline profile of well-being on Long Island. This initial offering has been followed-up by examinations of mental health, health care access, food insecurity and inequality and food system sustainability. Vital Signs 2009 updated in the 2006 report and explored the initial impact of the Great Recession on individual and community well-being. The current report further develops the themes explored in previous studies, using the most recent data available from public access sources. Through an analysis of 28 social health indicators, Vital Signs 2014 provides a timely snapshot of the region’s quality of life.

Vital Signs have been presented at refereed conferences, as well as at regional forums and public hearings before the Nassau and Suffolk County Legislators. They have also been used in a variety of reports and grant applications to enhance the region’s capacity to serve the need of its residents. Vital Signs has received extensive media coverage, in such publications as the New York TimesNewsday, Long Island Business News and The Nation, and on radio and television stations WHPC, WBLI, NPR, CBS Radio, NBC New York, RNN, and TV Fios.

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, James Hagedorn, Nassau University Medical Center, Office of Strategic Planning of North Shore Health System, New York State Education Department, 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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