Wednesday, November 11, 2015

County Health Rankings and Roadmaps released; data a great resource for community health stories

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on Tuesday released its "County Health Rankings and Roadmaps," which compares the health of residents by county and "explores how wide gaps are throughout each state and what is driving those differences," states the organization. The report looks at health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment. (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation graphic)

Health behaviors are: adult smoking; adult obesity, access to healthy food and food insecurity; physical inactivity; access to exercise opportunities; excessive drinking; alcohol-impaired deaths; sexually transmitted infections; and teen births. Clinical care consists of: uninsured population; access to primary care physicians, dentists and mental health providers; preventable hospital stays; diabetic monitoring; and mammography screening.

Social and economic factors are: high school graduation rates; college; unemployment; children in poverty; income equality; children in single-parent households; social associations; violent crime; and injury deaths. Physical environment includes: air pollution, drinking water violations; severe housing problems; driving alone to work; and long commutes.

For example, in Tennessee, nearly 2,900 residents—mostly in Appalachia—needlessly die each year "due primarily to income gaps, lack of access to care and such preventable causes as smoking and air pollution," Kristi Nelson reports for the Knoxville News-Sentinel. The report says those "deaths could be avoided each year in Tennessee if residents of all counties had the same opportunities for health as residents of the healthiest Tennessee counties." Eliminating health differences in West Virginia could prevent 1,900 premature deaths each year, reports the Williamson Daily News. In Mississippi, 2,300 premature deaths could be prevented each year, Evelina Burnett reports for Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

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