New report shines light on Tri-State health by county

New report shines light on Tri-State health by county

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - A new study, released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Public Health Institute, has ranked every county in the nation for overall health and health factors.

The report used data compiled in between the years 2015-2017.

Indiana Health Rankings
Indiana Health Rankings (Source: WFIE)

According to the 2019 report, five Indiana counties in the Tri-State ranked in the top 15 in the state for health factors and four were top 25 in overall health.

Dubois County ranked highly in each category. Dubois County Health Department Director Jo Ann Spaulding says that she was pleased to see the counties improvement from the prior year’s report.

“I was really pleased with the rankings and where we’re at knowing that we were 23rd," Spaulding said. "Last year the report came out and I really wanted to dig in deep and find out what were some of the areas of improvement. After reviewing the report I’m not necessarily surprised.”

The report uses a series of categories to score where each county lies on the ranking scale. For overall health, the categories are very simple: length of life and quality of life. Length of life takes into account years of life lost before the age of 25 per 100,000 people.

Quality of life looks at aspects such as physical health, mental health, and birth weight as a guide. Each of these are weighted equally with a 50/50 split.

Health factors use a broader variety of measurements to create its ranking. These factors are broken down into four categories: Health Behaviors (30% weighted), Clinical Care (20% weighted), Social and Economic Factors (40% weighted), and Physical Environment (10% weighted).

In short, these health factors include topics like rate of obesity and diabetes, prevalence of smoking, access to and affordability to health care, household income, age, and air pollution.

Spaulding says that these measures provide a good base to judge how a county is improving or falling behind in public health.

“It’s just a great snapshot of how we’re doing." Spaulding said. “I like to look at it to compare year to year, just to see areas of -oh where did we fall or where did we gain improvement.”

The lowest ranking county in the Tri-State was Vanderburgh County.

14 News reached out to county health leaders who expressed some frustration with the data being used, saying that it did not reflect the work done during the last three years.

In Kentucky, Daviess, Hancock, and Henderson Counties all ranked in the top 30 for health factors. Daviess and Hancock Counties remained in the top 20 for overall health outcomes.

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