April 12, 2012

Scotland County Among Five Healthiest Counties in Missouri According to Report



Scotland County ranked among the five healthiest counties in the state of Missouri according to a report released April 3rd by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

More than 3,000 counties and the District of Columbia can compare how healthy their residents are and how long they live with the 2012 County Health Rankings. The Rankings are an annual check-up that highlights the healthiest and least healthy counties in every state, as well as those factors that influence health, outside of the doctor's office.

The Rankings highlight the importance of critical factors such as education rates, income levels, and access to healthy foods, as well as access to medical care, in influencing how long and how well people live. Now in their third year, the Rankings are increasingly being used by community leaders to help them identify challenges and take action in a variety of ways to improve residents' health.

The Rankings are based on eight summary composite scores calculated from individual measures.

The overall Health Outcomes summary score is a weighted composite of Mortality (50%) and Morbidity (50%).

Scotland County ranked fifth in the state in this combined category, with well below state averages on the number of years of life before the age 75 loss to premature death which earned an eighth place ranking in mortality Ranking well below the state average for the number of days of poor physical or mental health resulted in a sixth place ranking for morbidity.

The overall Health Factors summary score is a weighted composite of four components: Health behaviors (30%), Clinical care (20%), Social and economic factors (40%), and Physical environment (10%).

Scotland County ranked 34th overall in this composite category.

Physical environment was the community's best asset, earning a 5th place ranking for access to recreational facilities, access to healthy foods and limited air pollution.

The county was 11th overall in health behaviors due to lower than state average numbers of smokers, teen births and sexually transmitted diseases. The county did slightly exceed state averages for adult obesity (34% compared to 31% statewide).

Social and economic factors ranked Scotland County 25th with 86% high school graduation rates and lower than average unemployment and violent crime rates and better than average social support. Howver the county did report above average levels of children in poverty (27% compared to state rate of 21%) and below average post secondary education rates (48% with some college compared to 68% statewide average).

The clinical care category was the lone poor score for Scotland County, with an overall ranking of 115 due to above average levels of uninsured (22% compared to 15% statewide) and below average numbers of screening recipients for mammograms and diabetes.

Published on-line at www.countyhealthrankings.org, the rankings assess the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states, using a standard way to measure how healthy people are and how long they live.

"The County Health Rankings show us that much of what influences our health happens outside of the doctor's office. In fact, where we live, learn, work and play has a big role in determining how healthy we are and how long we live," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of RWJF. "The good news is that businesses, health care providers, government, consumers and community leaders are already joining forces in communities across the nation to change some of the gaps that the Rankings highlight."

The Rankings show that, within states and across the nation, there are big differences in health and the factors that influence health.

Within each state, even the healthiest counties have areas where they can improve. Healthier counties (those where people live longer and have a better quality of life) have lower rates of smoking, physical inactivity, teen births, preventable hospital stays, unemployment, children in poverty, and violent crime and higher levels of education, social support, and access to primary care physicians. But healthier counties are no more likely than unhealthy counties to have lower rates of excessive drinking or better access to healthy food options.

The Rankings are based on the latest publicly-available data for each county and are unique local tools that every county can use to measure where its residents stand on multiple factors that influence health compared to other counties in their state. Residents also can see how their county measures up on indicators like diabetes screening by comparing their county's rank against a national benchmark reflecting the top performing counties in the United States. This year, the Rankings are easier to use than ever, with a new interactive mapping feature available at www.countyhealthrankings.org.

Since the first launch of the Rankings in 2010, a number of communities including Wyandotte, Kan.; Hernando, Miss., and the Joy-Southfield neighborhood in Detroit, have taken steps to address some of the health gaps identified by the Rankings.

"After three years, we've learned that people across the entire nation want to know how the health of their county compares to others in their state. This annual check-up helps bring county leaders together to see where they need to improve," said Patrick Remington, M.D., M.P.H., professor and associate dean at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. "It's really exciting to see that the Rankings continue to serve as a call to action to take steps to improve the health of communities."

The release of the report also coincided with the call for applications for the Roadmaps to Health Prize, another component of the County Health Roadmaps project that recognizes and honors the efforts and accomplishments of communities in the U.S. working at the forefront of better health for all residents. Up to six Roadmaps to Health Prize winning communities will be honored in early 2013 and each will receive a no-strings-attached $25,000 cash prize. Find out more and apply at www.countyhealthroadmaps.org/prize.

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