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

The purpose of CCHN is to enable data-driven decision-making that results in the improved health of college students nationwide. ACHA CCHN objectives include:

  • 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) is a database developed to house multi-institutional medical records (CPT and ICD data) from student health centers (SHCs) at more than 30 student health centers colleges and universities nationally. CHSN has been collecting longitudinal information about clinical utilization and diagnoses on more than 1,000,000 enrolled students since 2011.

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

  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). IPEDS is a system of interrelated surveys conducted annually by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). IPEDS gathers information from every college, university, and technical and vocational institution that participates in the federal student financial aid programs. Each institution in the IPEDS system has a unique IPEDS identification number. The IPEDS identification number is the ID that will be used to link the data in CCHN. IPEDS provides basic data needed to describe postsecondary education in the United States, in terms of the numbers of students enrolled, staff employed, dollars expended, and degrees earned.

  • ACHA Institutional Profile Survey (ACHA-IPS), starting in late 2018, all ACHA institutional members were asked to submit information about scope of health and wellness services at college student health centers, staff and administrative support, wellness programs and policies. Additional information focuses on facility metrics, budget, service eligibility, and billing. Institutional members will be asked to update this information annually.

2018-2019 Academic Year Institutional Profile Survey

The 2018-2019 ACHA Institutional Profile will establish a baseline profile for your institution (or update your 2017-2018 profile), using data you provide on institution type, and budget, as well as staff and student numbers and other details. The Institutional Profile will form the foundation for the Connected College Health Network (CCHN) and is required for participation in CCHN.

The goal of the institutional profile is to gather a complete picture about the institutional resources that support student health and well-being at ACHA Member Institutions. Once the CCHN is operational you will be able to compare your institution to the averages of peers and benchmark your own institution against these averages, supporting you in your strategic decision-making. While the initial survey will take about 60 minutes to complete, your information will be stored, and you will be able to update their profile annually. We expect that you will have access to a summary report in September 2020. For more information about the IPS, please review the instructions and worksheets below. 

In the coming weeks, current ACHA Institutional Members will receive a link to complete the 2018-2019 IPS as follows:

  • 2017-2018 IPS participants will receive a link to their 2017-2018 IPS submission for updating
  • Institutional Members new to the IPS will receive a link to complete a new survey
  • While awaiting your IPS link, please refer to the instructions and worksheets for Section A and Section B to begin gathering and organizing your submission for 2018-2019.
  • If you are NOT a current ACHA Institutional Member and would like to participate, you can find membership information here.

Instructions and Worksheets


Survey Closing Date

Please submit your 2018-2019 IPS by May 22, 2020. We understand that it can take a long time to gather all the data requested in the IPS. You may also find that you need to enlist the help of several different people from multiple departments to complete the IPS. We encourage you to begin work soon to ensure that you are able to submit by April 30.

Survey Results

We will highlight some preliminary results at the CCHN presentation at the 2020 ACHA Annual Meeting in Chicago. We expect that ACHA Institutional Members who complete the 2018-2019 IPS will have access to a Summary Report in September 2020. 

Note that the report of the 2018-2019 IPS will be available only to ACHA Member Institutions that complete and submit a 2018-2019 IPS.

2017-2018 Academic Year Institutional Profile Survey

One hundred seventy-one ACHA Institutional Members contributed to the 2017-2018 Academic Year Institutional Profile Survey. A summary report is available here [pdf].

Moving forward (AY 2018-2019 and beyond), only ACHA Institutional Members that submit an IPS will have access to the results. An exception is being made for this inaugural report by making it available to all ACHA members, whether they submitted an IPS or not. It’s our hope access to this one-time report will encourage participation in the IPS process by more ACHA Institutional Members.