RWJF, University of Wisconsin Release 2018 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps

On Wednesday, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute released the 2018 County Health Rankings which help counties understand what influences the health of residents and their life expectancy. The Rankings are unique in their ability to measure the current overall health of each county in all 50 states given that look at over 30 health-influencing factors that affect the future health of communities, including high school graduation rates, access to healthy foods, rates of smoking, obesity, and teen births.

This year’s Rankings highlights key connections between race and place, finding that segregated communities of color are less likely to be able to access investments that promote good schools, affordable housing, and other opportunities for health. The report also finds that black residents of more segregated counties fare worse in rates of child poverty, infant mortality, and high school graduation than those in less segregated counties.

Other trends noted in this year’s Rankings show increasing rates of children in poverty, increasing rates of babies born at low birthweight, and decreasing rates of teen births. To help address some of these troubling trends, the Rankings website includes a database of nearly 400 evidence-informed strategies that can be used in supporting local health-related agencies and entities in building healthy communities.

Overall, the Rankings serve as a resource for counties and local communities to garner support for local health improvement initiatives among local health departments, healthcare providers, community organizations, business leaders, policymakers, and the public. The 2018 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps are available here.