April 18th, 2018

How Well-Being Measurement Can Help Hawaii Communities

The Hawai‘i Well-Being Project is a team effort to fit together a set of reliable, continuing data to address policy-relevant strengths and liabilities in Hawai‘i. It is part of an ongoing effort to improve the well being of Hawai‘i’s communities and residents. In short, we can learn about the well being of a community in two ways: by asking individuals about their subjective experience and by looking at objective indicators. For example, the measure of safety and security is a combination of residents’ perception of safety in their community as well as the actual number of crimes within their community as reported by the Counties.

The Hawai‘i Well-Being Study can be used to guide policy development and can be a valuable tool for Hawai‘i communities. The community-level data and well-being model makes it possible for communities to better understand the domains and factors influencing their residents. Over time, using this tool, specific domains/factors can be identified as needing to be strengthened to improve overall community well being. As programs are implemented, key metrics can track community-level changes, programs improved, and over time, higher levels of well being achieved.

The following is an example of how the community-level data provides insights and can be used to identify strategies for improved well being within the community. Likewise, it shows significant differences between communities which suggest more distinct approaches to improvements will be required. Two caveats when looking at these examples: we are using survey data from only one year; and we know that factors will need to be tweaked to improve the model.

For purposes of this discussion we have ranked communities from one to fifty by well being overall and by each specific domain. This is not to say that one community is better than another but to identify relative strengths and weaknesses within each community. One is the highest community and fifty ranked the lowest.

For purposes of this example we have selected three communities from the east to the middle to west O’ahu.

The Wai‘anae Coast community ranked the lowest in overall well being – not a surprise given its low rankings in most of the domains.Perhaps more surprising is how low the Ala Moana/Kaka‘ako community ranked overall, only six positions away from Wai‘anae.‘Āina Haina was the second to the best community, but even they are not “perfect.”

For insight on how to improve overall well being in each community, we can look closer at the factors that contribute to the domains to identify specific areas to improve.

In the Health Domain, Wai‘anae ranks last. Looking at health factors and comparing responses from Wai‘anae v. O‘ahu in the table above we see that residents in Wai‘anae are almost twice as likely to have negative health indicators. Half of the respondents identified as obese (based on self-reported weight and height) compared to 27 percent for O‘ahu as a whole. Twenty-four percent of residents reported General Health Condition as “Poor” compared with only five percent in O‘ahu communities. The Ala Moana/Kaka‘ako area has a greater percentage of residents who indicated poor health conditions.

Contrary to expectations, practically all Wai‘anae residents have access to a Primary Care Provider (higher than other communities). However, their access to health care is lower relative to the rest of the communities – possibly due to their distant location to specialists other than those available at the Wai‘anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center. Ala Moana/Kaka‘ako residents have better access and rarely delayed medical care due to cost considerations, however fewer of them have a primary care provider.

In the next eight weeks you will receive weekly mailings that will explain the well-being scores for the 53 communities we measured by individual area and domain. For example, one week you will receive a report showing the Economic well-being scores for the 53 communities and another week their Safety and Security scores.

The results presented above are based on a random sample of 2,794 Hawai‘i residents, 18 years or older, providing a margin of error of +/-1.9 percent at the 95 percent confidence level at the State level, individual community level data will have a higher margin of error due to smaller sample size which will improve as further iterations of the study are conducted.

For more information please contact Jim Dannemiller by filling out the form on our contact page.

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