Results from a statewide health study released today show mixed progress for Rock County in its overall health rankings.

The 2018 County Health Rankings and Roadmaps ranked Rock County as 58th out of 72 counties in the state for health outcomes and 65th for health factors.

Rock County gained two spots in the health outcomes category from 2017 to 2018 in Rock County. It measures length and quality of life.

Progress is a good thing, but a two-rank change is not a significant one, said Kitty Jerome, researcher for the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

“I would say that kind of movement of one or two spots out of 72 spots over the course of the year is probably not measuring something really drastically different,” Jerome said. “It’s a step in the right direction, and we always want to see that.”

In health factors, a measure of health behaviors and social factors, the county fell three spots from 62nd to 65th.

Health factors show a picture of the future for a given area, Jerome said.

The category considers health behaviors, clinical care, physical environment, and social and economic factors.

The organization is looking closer at social and economic factors as indicators of health than in the last nine years, Jerome said.

“The social and economic factors contribute 40 percent to the overall measure, which means those are the places we need to dig deeper because they have the greatest influence on our health outcomes,” Jerome said.

Rock County social and economic factors

A selection of statistics included in the rankings 
  Compiled in 2017Compiled in 2018
High School graduation 91% 91%
Unemployment 5.2% 4.6%
Children in poverty 20% 19%
Median household income $54,100 $51,600

Rock County should pay attention to its percentage of children in poverty, Jerome said.

“Children in poverty rate is almost 20 percent. That is significant and an area of concern because we know that is a forecast of those children’s future if they’re growing up in poverty,” Jerome said.

Rock County saw a number of changes in health behaviors, most notably a 3 percent decrease in obesity from 37 to 34 percent.

Rock County health behaviors

 A selection of statistics included in the rankings
 Compiled in 2017Compiled in 2018
Percentage of adults considered obese 37%34%
Percentage of motor vehicle deaths related to alcohol39%43%
Number of sexually transmitted infections per 100,000 people411.8455.4
Number of teen births per 100,000 people3430
Percentage of population with adequate access to physical activity87%90%

Clinical care saw the greatest overall improvements in Rock County in the data provided this year. The ratios of primary care physicians, dentists and mental health providers to the population all improved.

Jerome said that in addition to the data, the study provides resources for communities to improve their approaches to public health. Community coaches are also available to meet with community groups to develop programs or policies to close health disparities and improve outcomes.

The information is helpful to anyone interested in improving health in their community, Jerome said. County health departments, parent-teacher organizations, hospitals, health care providers and nonprofits are just some of the groups that can benefit from data and resources.

To view the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, visit county healthrankings.org.

Reporter - Albany, Brodhead, Evansville, Footville, Orfordville, health

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