Limited Access to Healthy Foods

Limited access to healthy foods captures the proportion of the population who are low income and do not live close to a grocery store. Living close to a grocery store is defined differently in rural and nonrural areas; in rural areas, it means living less than 10 miles from a grocery store, whereas in non-rural areas it means less than 1 mile. Low income is defined as having an annual family income of less than or equal to 200 percent of the federal poverty threshold for the family size. There is strong evidence that residing in a food desert is… Full Story

Preventable Hospital Stays

Hospitalization for diagnoses treatable in outpatient services suggests that the quality of care provided in the outpatient setting was less than ideal. The measure may also represent a tendency to overuse hospitals as a main source of care. The rate of preventable hospital stays is often used to assess the effectiveness and accessibility of primary healthcare.

Violent Crime Rate

High levels of violent crime compromise physical safety and psychological well-being. High crime rates can also deter residents from pursuing healthy behaviors such as exercising outdoors. Additionally, exposure to crime and violence has been shown to increase stress, which may exacerbate hypertension and other stress-related disorders and may contribute to obesity prevalence. Exposure to chronic stress also contributes to the increased prevalence of certain illnesses such as upper respiratory illness and asthma in neighborhoods with high levels of violence.

Children in Single-Parent Households

Adults and children in single-parent households are at risk for adverse health outcomes such as mental health problems (including substance abuse, depression, and suicide) and unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and excessive alcohol use. Self-reported health has been shown to be worse among lone parents (male and female) than for parents living as couples, even when socioeconomic characteristics are controlled for. Mortality risk is also higher among lone parents. Children in single-parent households are at greater risk of severe morbidity and all-cause mortality than their peers in two-parent households.

Access to Recreational Facilities

This measure represents the number of recreational facilities per 100,000 population in a given county. Recreational facilities are defined as establishments primarily engaged in operating fitness and recreational sports facilities, featuring exercise and other active physical fitness conditioning or recreational sports activities such as swimming, skating, or racquet sports. The availability of recreational facilities can influence individuals’ and communities’ choices to engage in physical activity. Proximity to places with recreational opportunities is associated with higher physical activity levels, which in turn is associated with lower rates of adverse health outcomes associated with poor diet, lack of physical activity, and obesity.

Diabetic Screening

Regular screening among diabetic patients is considered the standard of care. It helps assess the management of diabetes over the long term by providing an estimate of how well a patient has managed his or her diabetes over the past two to three months. When hyperglycemia is addressed and controlled, complications from diabetes can be delayed or prevented. Evidence suggests that implementing disease management programs that target multiple components of chronic diseases can improve quality of care.

Some College

The relationship between higher education and health outcomes is well known, with years of formal education correlating strongly with improved economic opportunities, reduced psychosocial stress, and healthier lifestyles. This measure represents the percentage of the population ages 25-44 with some post-secondary education, such as enrollment at vocational/technical schools, junior colleges, or four-year colleges. It includes individuals who pursued education following high school but did not receive a degree.

Inadequate Social Support

The social and emotional support measure is based on responses to the question: “How often do you get the social and emotional support you need?” County Health Rankings reports the percentage of the adult population that responds that they “never,” “rarely,” or “sometimes” get the support they need. Poor family support, minimal contact with others, and limited involvement in community life are associated with increased morbidity and early mortality. Social support networks have been identified as powerful predictors of health behaviors, suggesting that individuals without a strong social network are less likely to make healthy lifestyle choices than individuals with a… Full Story

Primary Care Physicians

Access to care requires not only financial coverage, but also, access to providers. While high rates of specialist physicians have been shown to be associated with higher, and perhaps unnecessary utilization, sufficient availability of primary care physicians is essential for preventive and primary care, and when needed, referrals to appropriate specialty care.

Fast Food Restaurants

Access to fast food restaurants is correlated with a high prevalence of overweight, obesity, and premature death. The average number of kilocalories consumed daily in the U.S. has been on an increasing trend over the past several decades. Among most child age-groups, fast food restaurants are the second highest energy provider, second only to grocery stores.