FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                            

May 3, 2012                                                                                          

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Annual Rankings Show Where Pennsylvania Counties Do Well, Where They Need to Improve; Applications Announced for Related Roadmap to Health Prize


PHILAELPHIA – As in 2011, Union County has the healthiest residents in Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia County is the least healthy county in the state, according to the third annual County Health Rankings, released by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). “According to the Rankings, residents of Philadelphia County have twice the number of premature deaths, compared with residents of Union County,” said Francine Axler, senior research associate at Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC), the lead agency for the Pennsylvania County Health Rankings.  PHMC also manages the Community Health Data Base, which provides data on health status based on its Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey, one of the largest such regional surveys in the nation.


The County Health Rankings illustrate what we know when it comes to what’s making people sick or healthy. New this year, the County Health Roadmaps help counties to mobilize and take action to create healthier places. Taken together, the Rankings & Roadmaps can help create a healthier nation, county by county.


A call for applications for the Roadmaps to Health Prize marks another component of the County Health Roadmaps project that recognizes and honors the efforts and accomplishments of US communities working at the forefront of population health improvement. 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.countyhealthrankings.org/prize. To learn what other communities are doing to improve the health of their residents and how your county can develop plans to address health challenges, visit www.countyhealthrankings.org/roadmaps.


The County Health Rankings project ranks the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states, using a standard means to measure how healthy people are and how long they live. This year’s Rankings include several new measures, such as how many fast food restaurants are in each county and the levels of physical inactivity among residents. Graphs illustrating premature death trends over 10 years are new as well. “The Rankings project allows Pennsylvanians from each county to see how they compare with their neighbors,” said Axler.


According to the 2012 Rankings, the five healthiest counties in Pennsylvania-- beginning with most healthy--are Union followed by Chester, Juniata, Centre and Montgomery. The five counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are Philadelphia, Greene, Fayette, Sullivan and Cambria. The rate of sexually transmitted infection in Philadelphia County is nearly eight times that in Union County and Philadelphia County has nearly four times the teen birth rate. Additionally, 36% of children in Philadelphia County live in poverty, compared with 16% in Union County. Finally, the violent crime rate in Philadelphia County is about 14 times that of Union County.


“After three years, we know that people across the nation want to know how the health of their county compares with others in their state. This annual check-up helps bring county leaders together to see where they need to improve,” said Patrick Remington, MD, MPH, associate dean for public health at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. “It’s really exciting to see that by this point, the Rankings are a call to action to take steps to improve the health of communities.”


The Rankings, available at www.countyhealthrankings.org, includes a snapshot of each county in Pennsylvania with a color-coded map comparing overall health rankings. Researchers used five measures to assess the level of overall health or “health outcomes” for Pennsylvania by county: the rate of people dying before age 75, the percent of people who report being in fair or poor health, the numbers of days people report being in poor physical and poor mental health, and the rate of low-birthweight infants. 


The Rankings also consider factors that affect people’s health within four categories: health behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment. Among the many health factors they look at: rates of adult smoking, adult obesity, excessive drinking among adults, and teenage births; the number of uninsured under age 65, availability of primary care physicians, and preventable hospital stays; rates of high school graduation, adults who have attended some college, children in poverty; community safety; limited access to healthy foods; rates of physical inactivity; and air pollution levels.


“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, MD, MBA, 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.”




About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org.


About the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute

The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute is the focal point within the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health for translating public health and health policy research into practice. The Institute strives to:

  • Address a broad range of real-world problems of topical importance to government, business, providers and the public;
  • Promote partnerships of inquiry between researchers and users of research, breaking down barriers between the academic community and public and private sector policy makers;
  • Advance the development of interdisciplinary research, along the spectrum from public health to health care;
  • Provide continuing education for practitioners and opportunities for applied learning for graduate and medical students; and
  • Make useful contributions to public health and health policy decisions that improve the health of the public.

For more information, visit http://uwphi.pophealth.wisc.edu/.


About CHDB

Public Health Management Corporation’s Community Health Data Base Household Health Survey is one of the largest regional health surveys in the country. The Pew Charitable Trusts, William Penn Foundation, United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, United Way of North Penn, CIGNA Foundation, Green Tree Community Health Foundation, Philadelphia Foundation, North Penn Community Health Foundation, the Thomas Scattergood Foundation and over 350 local agencies from the health, government, nonprofit and academic sectors help to support CHDB. To view previous data news releases, please click here. For more information, or to access key findings from previous years, please visit www.chdbdata.org.


About PHMC

Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) is a nonprofit public health institute that creates and sustains healthier communities. PHMC uses best practices to improve community health through direct service, partnership, innovation, policy, research, technical assistance and a prepared workforce.  PHMC has served the region since 1972. For more information on PHMC, visit www.phmc.org.