Social Vulnerability Index Training Project

Dates: 2014-2015

State: New Hampshire

Client(s): NH Public Health Association

Service: Training & Technical Assistance

Technical Expertise: Emergency Preparedness and Response, Health Disparities, State and Local Public Health


New Hampshire is a racially and ethnically homogeneous state, with less than 6% of its population self-reporting as non-white. Despite NH’s lack of racial and ethnic diversity, the state faces another hugely impactful disparity contributing to health outcomes for all residents: geography. The 2014 County Health Rankings report showed that where one lives in the state greatly affects ones health outcomes. Not surprisingly, NH’s poorest counties experience the poorest health outcomes, while the most wealthy experience the best.

In partnership with the NH Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) and Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services (BDAS), the NH Public Health Association (NHPHA) seeks to educate local policy makers and public health professionals about how they can use the DPHS' Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) tool to identify those in their communities most at risk for poor health outcomes and other vulnerabilities—especially during times of public health emergency—and to use the tool to create proactive policies and plans to help mitigate the effect social determinants, such as poverty and education, have on these populations’ safety and health. The SVI was originally developed by the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to assist emergency response planners and public health officials to identify and map the communities that will most likely need support before, during, and after a disaster. The SVI uses U.S. census data to determine the social vulnerability of every census tract.

With support from the American Public Health Association, the NH Public Health Association contracted with JSI to work with the NH Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) to develop a Train the Trainer program to encourage use of the SVI mapping tool. JSI developed a Train the Trainer workshop for regional and local public health partners to train others on the use of the SVI tool to inform public health program planning and policy making to better reach socially vulnerable populations. JSI developed multi-modal Train the Trainer materials including a presentation and corresponding small and large group activities, activities, and a trainers' toolkit which included a trainers' guide, training recruitment/logistics support documents, group activities, and training tips.