How do you build a culture of health in counties across the nation?
The researchers behind the County Health Rankings believe it takes not only showing the counties where they stand in health outcomes, but also how they measure up in the factors that contribute to a healthy lifestyle – clinical care, health behaviors, social and economic factors and physical environment.
The idea is that once leaders can identify the root causes of poor health, they can take specific actions to improve health outcomes.
Here in Colorado, the 2014 County Health Rankings highlight the stark differences that exist between different regions of the state – even adjacent counties.
Take Douglas County and neighboring Teller County, for example. Douglas ranks number one for both health outcomes and health factors. Bordering Douglas to its south, Teller County ranks 45th for health outcomes and 25th for health factors. A closer look at the data provides insight into disparities in the factors that contribute to the overall ranking.
The percentage of children in poverty in 2012 shows a twelve point difference between the counties – four percent in Douglas and 16 percent in Teller. A similar difference is seen in adult smoking rates – the rate in Teller (23 percent average from 2006-2012) is almost three times that of Douglas (8 percent). Uninsured rates in Douglas (8 percent in 2011) were about half that of Teller’s (14 percent).
You can see more of the indicator differences in the comparison between Douglas and Teller here. Also be sure to read the Colorado summary report, read in-depth data for each county and visit the action center to learn about some of the tools already being used to help create a culture of health.