What Is the Connected College Health Network?

The American College Health Association (ACHA)'s Connected College Health Network (CCHN) is a multi-year project to advance educational achievement and health equity among young adults attending institutions of higher education throughout the United States through the creation of a college health national data project. The project will create a national college health data warehouse that links:

  • Health care utilization and outcomes at campus-based health centers;
  • Administrative data on campus-based services and programs;
  • Information about the campus health environment including key policies;
  • Population health survey data including health risk behaviors;
  • Student demographic data including academic outcomes; and
  • Institutional demographic characteristics.

Project Goals and Objectives

  • Determine the degree of health disparities on the basis of race/ethnicity of students enrolled nationally in institutions of higher education for Healthy Campus 2020 objectives. Areas of focus include obesity, access to clinical preventive services including immunizations, HIV screening, and STI screening, prevalence of depression and anxiety, experience of victimization, tobacco use, and high-risk alcohol consumption.

  • Use the data to develop a library of interventions that can be shared among universities and form quality improvement teams to move school cohorts through interventions, thereby improving health and wellness.

  • Analyze the relationship between health disparities and student educational attainment as measured by GPA and time to graduation.

  • Analyze the relationship of health disparities at the institutional level to institutional characteristics, policies, services and programs.

  • Identify promising and best practices to reduce health inequities within student populations.

  • Disseminate practices to individual institutions and college health professionals. Build capacity through technical assistance among college health professionals to improve health equity within their population.

Problem Statement

There are significant gaps of understanding in the degree of health disparities within college student populations and its connection to academic achievement. Student status is often neither collected nor reported in most national population health samples of young adults. Physical health and mental health are often considered to be contributors to student retention, but their intersection with social determinants is rarely studied within higher education.

The role that high quality, comprehensive college health programs, campus community engagement on health and robust campus policies can play in addressing the needs of populations of students who arrive on our campuses with unmet health needs is not known. Very few college health centers and campuses routinely integrate evaluation of health equity into their programs and services.

Connected College Health Network is guided by five key elements:

  1. Convene universities, government agencies, and private institutions to develop a composite set of data that can be accessed across universities nationally.
  2. Develop a common method to collect and transmit the data through member institutions’ student information systems.
  3. Build a centralized system to collect data from institutions and implement a data analytics system that enables institutions to access data across the network.
  4. Build strong partnerships with policy makers to provide a direct path for disseminating new findings.
  5. Integrate with national surveillance networks to provide timely data regarding college health and wellness and provide early warnings of college-based disease outbreaks.

The project will connect and build upon several existing projects. These include:

  • Data from the ACHA-National College Health Assessment (ACHA-NCHA), which has been administered to over 1.5 million college students over the past 17 years and provides robust national information about college student health status, health risk behaviors and health attitudes;

  • The College Health Surveillance Network (CHSN) which has been collecting longitudinal information about clinical utilization and diagnoses from 33 colleges and universities for the past five years;

  • Healthy Campus 2020, a socio-ecological framework with measurable objectives for assessment of campus health; and

  • ACHA Administrative Benchmarking and Institutional factors collected through the integrated postsecondary educational data system.