For the eighth year in a row, a health survey that measures length and quality of life, places Hamilton County at the top and Scott County the bottom.
The annual County Health Rankings report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute finds Indiana’s health factors and outcomes vary by where you live. RWJF Program Officer Andrea Ducas says socio-economic factors give more affluent counties a healthy edge.
“You see really high rates of high school graduation, high rates of college attainment, low rates of unemployment, low rates of children in poverty,” says Ducas.
This year the study explores an increase in premature deaths due to drug overdoses and Ducas says the report highlights factors like unemployment that may be driving the epidemic.
“It’s important to look at those things,” says Ducas. “Is there a reason that people are turning to opioids?”
The report measures many behaviors, including physical inactivity. It also measures access to care, the physical environment – including pollution – and commute times. Ducas says the report is a useful tool for counties trying to close health gaps.
“Digging underneath the rank to look at what the trends are what are the opportunities,” says Ducas.
Some data is measured statewide – for example Indiana still has a higher rate of smokers, 21 percent compared to 17 percent nationally.