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Modified HWBI Model(s) Linking Service Flows to Well-Being Endpoints: Accounting for Environmental Quality
Harwell, L., L. Smith, AND Kevin Summers. Modified HWBI Model(s) Linking Service Flows to Well-Being Endpoints: Accounting for Environmental Quality. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-17/376, 2017.
The purpose of this product is to describe an approach to modify ORD’s Human Well-Being Index (HWBI), a holistic composite measure, to increase its utility by using another existing composite index, ORD’s Environmental Quality Index (EQI) (Lobdell et al., 2014). The main interest of this research was three-fold: 1) Identify an approach to integrate composite measures that is simple and reproducible; 2) Test the capability of the HWBI health model and overall HWBI to reflect directional changes when using EQI as a modifier; and 3) Test for statistical significance should differences manifest.
This report describes an approach for modifying ORD’s Human Well-Being Index (HWBI) to increase its utility by introducing a composite index developed independently of the HWBI effort. Using ORD’s Environmental Quality Index (EQI), this research examines the potential for using existing indicator products in novel ways to add a new facet of interpretability regarding the linkages between socio-ecological systems and human health and well-being. This research demonstrates a way to combine existing composite indices for developing a new layer of information as an extended diagnostic of well-being conditions. HWBI adaptations and applications are also presented, highlighting population-specific HWBI research. These adaptations could serve as future EQI-modified HWBI use cases. A series of relationship-function equations were developed, linking aspects of the HWBI (domains) to select economic, ecosystem and social services (Summers et al., 2016). The EQI was introduced as a modifier within the HWBI health model structure which served as the conduit to affect an overall EQI-adjusted HWBI. A standard transformation of the modeled HWBI health values made combining the two indices relatively simple, requiring no further adjustments to either composite measure to accommodate the integration. Standardized HWBI health values were adjusted by the EQI directly then reconstituted to provide a score comparable to the remaining HWBI domains. An adjusted overall HWBI was calculated for each county to reflect the EQI modification. Results identified approximately 28% of U.S. county HWBI health scores exhibiting significant changes as a result of the EQI modification, both positive or negative (Figure ES - 2). These results suggest that the addition of the EQI as a modifying factor to the HWBI relationship-function equation for health provides an additional layer of diagnostics for understanding well-being. The approach provides empirical results that can be visualized to identify hotspots of current or potential future adverse environmental-health relationships. Having a sense of where problems may exist could help inform environmental improvement decisions that may have the greatest community impact. Equally important, the EQI-modified HWBI health scores could be used to communicate the important linkages between a healthy lifestyle and a healthy environment to support that lifestyle and overall well-being. While the demonstration focused on a county-level application, the approach can be used at any spatial-scale, provided the appropriate data are available. The resulting suite of indicators and indices could provide decision-makers and stakeholders alike with measures to assess and track human health and well-being progress over time in the context of socio-ecological interactions.The EQI-modified HWBI demonstration may serve as the first step towards building robust information frameworks to support indicator and index development that promote more integrated decision-support tools.