The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute Wednesday released a report that ranks the health of the counties in each state. Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) director Tom Newton says the survey uses a variety of health information.
He says they’re looking at health outcomes, such as death as well health factors made up of health behaviors, care and social economic factors as they try to get a big picture on how healthy the population is within the county. The top five of Iowa’s counties for overall health are Sioux, Winneshiek, Bremer, Lyon and Delaware. Appanose County was at the bottom of the list.
The study uses much of the information gathered by the health department. Newton says poverty is one of the factors that is probably going to pull some counties down, and some of the counties have an older population that would pull them down. He says older populations tend to have more problems with disease. Newton says the rankings are another factor to look at in the overall health picture.
“We can’t take these too seriously, but they should be a call to action. It should be a way to mobilize the community to begin to look at what its needs are around health and develop some plans to address those needs,” Newton says. He says counties will likely look at the information as they plan for the future.
Newton says counties are beginning the community health needs assessments they do ever five years and he says the report will likely be one of the tools in their toolbox as they look at how to make their county as healthy as possible. To see more on the report, go on-line to: www.countyhealthrankings.org.