Clark County’s ranking looks at the most recent health data available for factors like adult obesity (37%), low birthweight babies (9%) and flu vaccination rates (48%). But the rankings also consider a range of social factors that drive health like high school completion (89%), severe housing problems (13%) and children living in poverty (21%).
Those figures are then compared to the state and national average to determine a county’s ranking.
Marietta Orlowski, chair of the Department of Population and Public Health Sciences at Wright State University, said it is important to measure social drivers of health because they are important root causes of health outcomes and because things that get measured tend to also get resources.
For example, people can learn at the doctor’s office how to properly manage their asthma.
“But if they’re living in an environment with poor air quality and mold, doing a behavior-oriented intervention isn’t going to change that health outcome. It’s the housing environment that needs to change,” Orlowski said.
The Clark County Combined Health District has formed “task forces” over years to address some of these factors, like substance abuse, healthy births, nutrition, physical activity and tobacco use, according to the health district’s website.
Task forces, which are made up of local community members and health care providers, meet monthly to discuss how to better improve their assigned health issue.
In addition, the CCCHD also conducts its own research into the county’s health data every year in what they call the “Community Health Assessment.” The assessment from 2020 is not yet available.
In the 2019 Community Health Assessment, the health district identified a number of topics of concern in the county, including “access to things like transportation, mental health, poverty in children, health behaviors like smoking, social/emotional/community interaction and social determinants of health.”