Wednesday, March 25, 2015

County health rankings are out and are a great resource for use in local coverage

The University of Wisconsin's Population Health Institute's annual county health rankings, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, are now available. The rankings are a good resource for assessing a county's overall health status and for comparing counties within the same state. (Example: Overall rankings in Mississippi)

Counties are ranked within each state based on quality of life and length of life. Thirty percent of the information is based on health behaviors (tobacco and alcohol use, diet and exercise, sexual activity), 20 percent on clinical care (access to care and quality of care), 40 percent on social and economic factors (education, employment, income, family and social support, community safety) and 10 percent on physical environment (air and water quality and housing and transit).

The healthiest counties had lower rates of unemployment, children living in poverty, children raised in single-parent households, violent crime, smoking, vehicular deaths, sexually transmitted diseases, preventable hospital stays and housing problems. They also had higher rates of college attendance, more exercise opportunities, better air and water quality and more access to physicians, dentists and mental health providers.

The least healthy counties had lower rates of high school graduates and access to exercise and mammograms. They also has higher rates of unemployment, income inequality, children raised in single-parent households, vehicular deaths, smoking, teen births, uninsured adults, housing problems and worse air and water quality. To search by state click here.

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