March 29, 2011
Nationwide 2011 County Health Rankings explore the health of Minnesota counties
Rankings by University of Wisconsin and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation offer a county-by-county snapshot of how multiple factors influence health
Minnesota's counties are included in a report ranking the health of every county in each of the 50 states. The County Health Rankings, prepared by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, ranks the overall health of counties by using a standard formula to measure how healthy people are and how long they live.
Counties are ranked in two categories: health outcomes and health factors (also known as health determinants). Health outcomes include the rate of people dying before age 75, the percentage of people who report being in fair or poor health and the rate of low-birth weight infants. Health factors include health behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment. The rankings, which launched nationwide last year, are designed to compare the health of counties within each state; they do not compare counties in one state with counties in another state.
“The County Health Rankings help everyone see that much of what influences our health happens outside of the doctor's office and where we live matters to our health," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which collaborates with the University of Wisconsin on the rankings. “We hope this second annual release of County Health Rankings data will spur all sectors – government, business, community and faith-based groups, education and public health – to work together to find solutions and take action and implement programs and policy changes to improve health."
The County Health Rankings are an additional tool that highlights the essential role of prevention across Minnesota. “The Rankings not only shine a light on the health of individual counties; they also demonstrate the need to include prevention in our health reform efforts," said Dr. Edward Ehlinger, Minnesota Commissioner of Health. “We have an unprecedented opportunity to make reforms that will improve the health of all Minnesotans, and we must be sure to look at upstream disease prevention and health promotion at the same time we address other aspects of health reform."
Local health departments in Minnesota already do extensive measurement of the health of their communities. Minnesota's Local Public Health Act requires local health departments to conduct a comprehensive assessment and planning process every five years in order to identify public health challenges and strategies for improving health. “Our local health departments already do an excellent job measuring the health of their populations, to help them understand what they do well and where they can improve," Ehlinger added. “This is one reason why Minnesota consistently ranks as one of the healthiest states in the nation."
The County Health Rankings are available for viewing at www.countyhealthrankings.org.
For a list of Minnesota's local health departments, see: www.health.state.mn.us/divs/cfh/ophp/system/administration/chb.cfm.