Tennessee County Health Rankings Released

NASHVILLE, Tenn., May 1 /PRNewswire/ -- The Tennessee Institute of Public Health (TNIPH) released a second report today that details, county by county, the health status of Tennesseans. The study, Tennessee County Health Rankings: 2007 Index, both profiles and ranks the health of the public for each county. TNIPH released the first County Health Ranking in December 2006.

Most of the report is comprised of individual profiles of a Tennessee county's health based on a series of indicators drawn from different sources including the Tennessee Department of Health, Department of Education and the U.S. Census Bureau, to name a few. These profiles will enable counties to look at many different indices at once and offers a broader picture of health in their counties.

"The goal is to identify specific public health areas that require attention for a given community and to enable public policy makers and public health officials to set priorities and dedicate resources to improve the health of Tennesseans, county by county," said Beth Fuller, doctor of public health and executive director of the TNIPH.

The report focuses on combining two categories of health measures, "health outcomes" and "health determinants." Outcomes show the overall health status of a county population, while determinants function as predictors of the population's future health.

Recently, the New York Times reported a disturbing trend of higher mortality rates in pockets across the U.S. In the article, decreased life expectancy was identified in numerous Tennessee counties in recent years, particularly for women. Reports such as the one released by the Tennessee Institute of Public Health are timely and can help identify issues, county by county that might contribute to the decline in life expectancy in Tennessee.

The report is based on 35 indicators including mortality rates, high school graduation, smoking prevalence, birth weight, access to health care, racial disparities, poverty, incidences of violent crime and air quality data all assigned to each county.

In addition to the profiles, the report also ranks counties by their overall health score. The higher the score for a county, the lower that county ranks against other Tennessee counties.

Trend data over a range of years is recommended rather than a focus on a yearly change in county health ranking. This presents a challenge, as the Index is only in its second year. Therefore, TNIPH recommends that each county focus on the health profiles for specific data on health outcomes and health determinates, rather than its rank against other counties.

The report's data set is based on similar data used for the national United Health Foundation's annual public health rankings of all 50 states localized to Tennessee's communities.

The rankings were developed by TNIPH through a collaboration of the Tennessee Department of Health, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the Tennessee Board of Regents and the University of Tennessee. Similar public health institutes exist in 26 other states.

Through its partners, TNIPH will be a resource providing non-biased information to the state. It will also encourage the development of targeted educational programs to help build and support the public health workforce. TNIPH will develop and maintain an inventory of available researchers across the state who are capable of addressing specific Tennessee health issues.

The Rankings report and more information on TNIPH can be found at www.tn.gov/tniph .

SOURCE Tennessee Institute of Public Health

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