Thursday, March 31, 2011

Is your Community Healthy?

The passage of the Affordable Care Act created a renewed emphasis on community prevention and population health. With the Prevention and Public Health Fund and the Community Transformation Grants, resources are now available to improve the health of communities around the country. But how do you know how healthy your community is?

On Wednesday, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ( and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute ( released the 2011 County Health Rankings ( The County Health Rankings are a key component of the Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health (MATCH) project—a nationwide call to action for improving community health—first released last year. The rankings generate 50 state reports, ranking each county within the 50 states according to its health outcomes and the multiple health factors that determine a county’s health. The four different types of health factors are health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and the physical environment. Specific county-level data (as well as state benchmarks) are also available. The Rankings are built on America’s Health Rankings, an annual comprehensive assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by-state analysis, which is published jointly by United Health Foundation, the American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention.

Many counties around the country have used the Rankings to implement strategies and initiate interventions to positively influence health factors and improve their health outcomes. One specific example is Wyandotte County, Kansas, where Mayor Joe Reardon worked with other local stakeholders to create a Healthy Communities initiative after seeing his state’s low rank in last year’s County Health Rankings report.

A new development with this year’s Rankings is the launch of an innovative tool, the County Health Calculator ( The calculator is a new interactive online application that simulates the affect of higher levels of education and income on health in a county. It was developed by Center of Human Needs at Virginia Commonwealth University ( with funding by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Read more on Partnership’s community prevention efforts here.


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