The launch of the RI Life Index in 2019 was just the first step in a journey towards catalyzing change in our state. Below are highlights of that journey to date.
From April through June 2022, we interviewed randomly selected participants by landline telephone, cell phone, or web with geographic representation across the state of Rhode Island. Interviews lasted approximately 15 minutes and were conducted in English or Spanish. In total, 2093 surveys were completed with an oversample of Black and Latinx Rhode Islanders. Of the total surveys completed, 465 were conducted by landline, 1140 by cell phone, and 488 through a web survey tool.
The survey featured three sets of questions about respondents’ perceptions of their communities. One set of questions asked respondents to rate statements about their communities in terms of whether the statement was completely descriptive, somewhat descriptive, not very descriptive, or not descriptive at all. A second set of questions asked respondents to rate how likely each aspect of life was for a typical person living in their community—very likely, somewhat likely, somewhat unlikely, or very unlikely. The third set of questions asked respondents about housing availability and affordability. We also included questions about programs and services for children and older Rhode Islanders as well as questions about respondents’ actual experiences around food security, economic situation, confidence in managing health problems, and confidence in using technology.
The Analytic Approach
First, we weighted the data to be representative of the state of Rhode Island population with regard to age, gender, and race/ethnicity. Next, we created scores for various aspects of health and well-being in a community. We refer to these scores as POP (percent of the possible) scores. The POP score for each component represents how close respondents believe their community is to an ideal or healthy community in these areas. We used this approach to combine multiple indicators into one score, allowing for easier observation of targets for improvement, as well as community strengths.
A POP score of 100 is the highest possible score for each component. A score of 100 is reached when every single respondent rates each of the individual indicators of a component at the highest (best possible) value. Scores ranging from 0 to 100 show how close the community is to the ideal. For creation of the POP scores, negative outcomes were reversed so that a higher POP score indicates moving towards a healthier community.
The darkest red colors represent the lowest (worst) POP scores while the darkest blue colors represent the highest (best) POP scores. This allows for easy visualization of how close to the ideal survey participants viewed each component of health and well-being.
We also used ordinary least squares (OLS) regression modeling with each POP score individually treated as the dependent measure to examine the individual characteristics associated with each health and well-being component. Variables included in the models were: age, race/ethnicity, income, education, disability, gender, and geography. The blue upward facing arrow means that a variable is associated with higher (better) perceptions of that component, the red downward facing arrow means that the variable is associated with lower (worse) perceptions, and - means that the variable was not meaningfully associated with that component.
We show POP scores overall and stratified by geography (Core Cities vs. Non-Core Areas), race/ethnicity, and age.
Core cities are those in which 25% or more of children are living below the federal poverty level.
The report stratifies data by core city vs. non-core area and by race and ethnicity. We begin at the widest point of the lens, with summaries of perceptions of community that incorporate a range of social determinants of health, and quickly move into a breakdown of those key factors. Data on actual experiences of respondents with regard to certain topics is next, followed by special topics, reported as percentages rather than POP scores. We also report trends from 2019 to 2022 for topics where we have at least three years of comparative data.
With four years of data, we continue to examine trends in several topic areas. We are only able to examine trends for POP scores containing questions that were asked in at least 3 years. There were some changes in the survey between 2019 and 2020. One question that is part of the composite RI Life Index, Community Life, and Children POP scores was added in 2020. For 2019, we computed these three POP scores without the item and present these results, noting that the construction of the POP scores differed slightly in 2019. The data are weighted each year to be representative of the state of Rhode Island population with regard to age, gender, and race/ethnicity. When combining multiple years of data, these weights must be divided by the number of years being analyzed. This may result in small differences in the computed POP scores for each year in the trend analyses when compared to analyses using a single year of data.