PROVIDENCE – The fifth edition of the 2014 County Health Rankings identifies Bristol County as Rhode Island’s healthiest county and Providence County as the least healthy.
The rankings, distributed in a report released Wednesday, are compiled across all 50 states and Washington, D.C., by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute.
Residents of least healthy counties are twice as likely to have shorter lives as their counterparts in healthier counties. They also have twice as many children living in poverty and twice as many teen births. The ratings carry implications for economic development, the report states.
Data covers 29 different factors, including education, unemployment, community safety and diet, along with new categories that include housing, transportation, and access to mental health providers. Counties across the country are scored on outcomes based on overall health, mortality and morbidity, as well as factors that include overall health, behavioral health, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment.
Bristol County ranks healthiest when considering health outcomes like premature death, poor or fair health and low birth rate, followed by Newport, Washington, Kent and Providence counties.
Bristol County again ranks most healthy when considering health factors ranging from excessive drinking to adult obesity, violent crime and long commutes, followed by Washington, Newport, Kent and Providence counties.
According to the website, “The major goal of the rankings is to raise awareness about the many factors that influence health and [the fact that] that health varies from place to place, not to produce a list of the healthiest 10 or 20 counties in the nation and only focus on that.”
The authors culled data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics and Division of Behavioral Surveillance and from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice.
“The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s vision for a culture of health is one where everyone has the opportunity to be healthy,” said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, foundation president and CEO. “The County Health Rankings are a starting point for change, helping communities come together, identify priorities and create solutions that will help all in our diverse society live healthier lives, now and for generations to come.”
The rankings are part of a County Health Rankings and Roadmaps program, which provides an action center that offers tools, step-by-step guides and stories to help communities implement solutions to enhance healthier living.
A summary report states that the rankings “have been used to garner support for local health improvement initiatives among government agencies, health care providers, community organizations, business leaders, policy makers and the public.” For more information, visit countyhealthrankings.org.
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