How healthy we, as individuals are; how healthy our families are; how healthy our neighbors, our schools and communities are, affects many components of our society. Many changes to improve our health depend on lifestyle changes and the environment we live, work, play, learn and pray in.
To better understand how we fare as a county or a state, we need data and information about many different health risks that help us assess our health. The County Health Rankings & Roadmap Program just released the annual County Health Rankings that rates the health of nearly every county in the nation.
The County Health Rankings & Roadmap Program is developed right here in Wisconsin and is a program that emerged from a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
Having information about the different health measures and mapping these in a ranking shows us what we need to know about the health of our county and state. It also guides us as to what we can do to make our county and our state healthier. Perhaps information from this resource can shape policies to help us create a healthier environment to live in. Or it can guide more local efforts to affect change that can have a positive influence in our own communities.
The rankings are easy to use and include interactive maps, graphs and details about trends. It ranks counties on health outcomes (mortality and morbidity) and also health factors. The health factors section is divided into four categories:
- health behaviors (adult smoking, adult obesity, physical inactivity, teen birth rate and more),
- clinical care (percent uninsured, preventable hospital stays, ratio of population to primary care physicians and dentists, etc.),
- socio economic factors (% of children in poverty, % violent crime, % of high school graduates, etc.) and
- physical environment (% of fast food restaurants, percent of population who are low income and do not live close to a grocery store, drinking water safety, etc.)
The Roadmaps section of the website puts forth information about evidence based strategies that can be used as a guide when local communities are ready to address some of their community health needs.
The County Health Rankings and Roadmaps is a resource that can help communities develop and tailor solutions to improve the health of their residents. It acknowledges that much of what affects our health happens outside the doctor’s office and is very much a factor in the environment we live in.
Visit County Health Rankings and Roadmaps at www.countyhealthrankings.org. For information about Wisconsin, visit: http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/app/home#/wisconsin/2013/rankings/outcomes/overall/by-rank.