How the Vital Conditions Framework and IP3 ASSESS Support West Virginia Communities
Updated: Mar 20
Seven Vital Conditions for Well-Being Framework
The vital conditions for well-being framework focuses attention on a small but comprehensive set of seven conditions that all people need to reach their full potential for health and well-being. It succinctly summarizes the properties of places and institutions that shape everyone's potential to thrive. It is accessible and encompasses an array of opportunities, obstacles, exposures, and choices that we each encounter from birth to death and across generations.
The framework presents an actionable, asset-based approach to address and advance beyond social determinants of health and inequities. Notably, the framework identifies core elements needed to create a thriving community, rather than measures of productivity or descriptions of vulnerabilities or negative determinants. The vital conditions framework has roots in the community and is centered on “belonging and civic muscle.” This centering is because civic engagement is key to building community capacity. Local, self-driven solutions are critical to addressing local community needs—and ultimately to fostering community leadership to build an equitable, thriving future.
The Vital Conditions Framework Offers Opportunity for Alignment
A growing cadre of organizations now explicitly focus on leveraging the vital conditions, and they report increased ease with which all community partners can see themselves in—and step into—collaborative work to advance equitable well-being. Since 2017, these vital conditions have been widely studied and institutionalized through nationwide platforms such as the Healthy People 2030 framework for the nation, the Springboard for Thriving Together, Community Commons, the WIN Network, the Build Healthy Places Network, and the Office of the Surgeon General. Recently, even the federal government announced they’ve adopted the framework with the launch of the Federal Plan for Equitable Long-Term Recovery and Resilience, an actionable, whole-of-government approach to equitably strengthen resilience and well-being in our Nation.
Case Study: The Center for Rural Health in West Virginia
The Center for Rural Health Development (Center) works to improve the health of West Virginians and strengthen West Virginia’s healthcare delivery system, especially in rural communities. The Center’s Wild, Wonderful & Healthy West Virginia program leverages IP3 ASSESS to introduce and norm the use of the vital conditions for well-being framework throughout the state, and they’ve seen benefits that have catalyzed positive community change:
The framework provides an easier way to assess community conditions and prioritize areas for investment: There are volumes of data collected during a needs assessment, but when data are organized by the framework, it’s simple enough to engage stakeholders and partners with the data. Not being bogged down by hundreds of data points enables the Center and its network of coalitions throughout the state to move quickly from assessment to action planning and implementation.
The Center is better equipped to collaborate and engage diverse stakeholders: The framework sets the stage naturally for collaboration, especially across sectors, and for multi-solving. Specific areas of need are highlighted, but there is also an emphasis on the interconnectedness of the entire system in which we live, work, and play. Stakeholders can see themselves in the seven vital conditions and see their role in improving them. Organizing Around Vital Conditions Moves the Social Determinants Agenda into Wider Action resonates with all sectors in a community and naturally demonstrates the central role of sectors that address housing, employment, transportation, climate sustainability, economic development, health, and more to facilitate equitable well-being.
“The vital conditions framework helps us engage a more diverse group of stakeholders, especially from a sector perspective. Those in the business community may think certain initiatives are more of a “healthcare issue” if we use the social determinants of health. The framework is also a little more palatable to anyone who may not come from a public health background.” - Sharon Landsdale, President & CEO of the Center
IP3 ASSESS Supports Those Leveraging the Vital Conditions Framework
The vital conditions framework makes data more digestible and inclusive, and simplifies the way communities, local health departments, and health systems can collaborate to improve equitable well-being. IP3 ASSESS enables those who want to use the vital conditions to do so very easily—the platform organizes data by frameworks to analyze and present data in a digestible, actionable way. Each framework is made up of a series of relevant domains (in this case, the seven vital conditions) and indicators that populate each domain. Users can quickly understand how a given community or geographic area fairs relative to the state or Nation when it comes to each vital condition, as well as each individual measure.
“Without IP3 ASSESS and the way the platform displays data by frameworks and shows data relative to benchmarks, we wouldn’t be able to leverage vital conditions the way we do. It’s essential—community members can visualize what the data show through the platform (green and red). The folks in health and healthcare are used to looking at large datasets, but others in the community aren’t.” - Sharon Landsdale, President and CEO of the Center
IP3 ASSESS also simplifies communicating and sharing data with partners and stakeholders. The platform’s shareable reports include compelling data visualizations, enable users to spotlight specific topics or areas of need, and are integrated seamlessly with resources on Community Commons, including policy guides, toolkits, and more to inspire data-driven action. Over the past year, the Center has also worked with IP3 to add custom data to the platform—namely, data that are specific to West Virginia and aid in understanding the vital conditions. Having familiar datasets from trusted state sources has been beneficial in helping the Center to gain buy-in and prompt collective action,
If you’re interested in learning more about how to adopt the Vital Conditions framework and/or IP3 ASSESS to drive your work forward, please reach out to discuss opportunities for alignment!