Kentucky Health News
A new report of the national county health rankings shows several Kentucky counties have improved in the last two years while others have gotten significantly worse.
For the second year in a row, Oldham County ranked best in health outcomes, and Floyd County ranked worst this year, but the statistical differences among closely ranked counties are so small that they are subject to error margins. The rankings recognize that by placing the counties into quartiles, or fourths, of the state’s 120 counties.
Ranks in quartiles: white, 1st-30th; gray, 31st to 60th; light green, 61st to 90th; dark green, 91st to 120th.
These Eastern Kentucky counties have been listed in the bottom quartile (91st to 120th) for the past three years: Lawrence, Johnson, Martin Powell, Wolfe, Magoffin, Floyd, Pike, Breathitt, Knott, Jackson, Owsley, Perry, Letcher, Clay, Leslie, Knox, Bell and Whitley.
The rankings are based on a model of population health that emphasizes the many factors that, if improved, can help make Kentucky communities healthier places to live: health behaviors, such as diet, exercise and alcohol use; clinical care, including access to care and quality of care; social and economic factors, such as education, employment and income; and the environmental quality of the physical environment.
Other factors considered in the rankings include the rate of people dying before age 75, high-school graduation rates, unemployment, access to healthy foods, air and water quality, income, and rates of smoking, obesity and teenage pregnancy.
Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.