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Tennessee County Health Rankings Released

Friday, May 2, 2008 General News J E 4
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NASHVILLE, Tenn., May 1 The Tennessee Institute of PublicHealth (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 Tennesseecounty's health based on a series of indicators drawn from different sourcesincluding the Tennessee Department of Health, Department of Education and theU.S. Census Bureau, to name a few. These profiles will enable counties tolook at many different indices at once and offers a broader picture of healthin their counties.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOURCE Tennessee Institute of Public Health
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