Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2011 County Health Rankings

Hancock County has the healthiest residents in Maine and Oxford County remains the least healthy county in the state, according to the second annual County Health Rankings, released today by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. According to the Rankings, residents of Oxford County are more likely to die a premature death than those in Hancock County.

Rankings were completed in all 50 states, including Maine. Counties were ranked within states only, with no comparison between states. Full Maine rankings are available at: http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/maine/downloads-and-links

The report helps identify factors that influence health in each county. All counties in Maine, regardless of their ranking, have both strengths to celebrate and challenges to address.

For years, public health data have shown that many counties in Maine with lower incomes and educational attainment are less healthy. Such disparities continue to be reflected in these rankings. However, the report also shows significant variation. For instance, some counties with similar socioeconomic profiles have very different rankings for health factors and outcomes, suggesting that a complex array of factors influences the health of our communities.

Although some of our counties have better health outcomes than others, it is important to note that overall Maine is one of the healthiest states in the nation. Maine ranked as the 8th healthiest state in the country for 2010 by the United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings. Maine also ranks 4th overall for child health in a new Commonwealth Fund state-by-state scorecard. These positive state rankings reflect a concerted effort to address health challenges through collaboration of a variety of public health stakeholders at the local, regional and state levels.

Maine’s public health system is charged with using a variety of data sources, including rankings such as these, to improve the health of all communities in Maine. Significant health improvement planning efforts are underway at the local, district, and state levels.

The University of Wisconsin also provided District Rankings this year to coincide with the 8 geographic public health districts in the state. In the District Rankings, Cumberland is the healthiest district and Aroostook is least healthy

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