Written by Ann Marie Murphy –
Four health factors contribute to how long we live and how well we live according to County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
Health outcomes are a snapshot of today’s community health. Health factors are a view to the future health of our communities.
HEALTH OUTCOMES: Length of Life, Quality of Life
HEALTH FACTORS: Health Behaviors,Clinical Care,Social & Economic Factors, Physical Environment
“The County Health Rankings illustrate what we know when it comes to what is making people sick or healthy. The Roadmaps shows what we can do to create healthier places to live, learn, work, and play,” states the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps website.
The Division of University Outreach and Engagement (Division) is positively impacting the future well-being of those living in Oregon by directly impacting its health factors.
Healthy People. Healthy Planet. Healthy Economy.
For seven years, the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program, has been an important tool for counties striving to build a culture of health. It’s a tool to benchmark community efforts and also to identify how investments in healthy living factors—or lack thereof—are changing health outcomes. Health factors and gaps are tracked annually for almost every county in the U.S.
Check out Oregon’s county rankings.
The work being done by the Division makes a dramatic difference in the lives of Oregonians, from today’s youth to tomorrow entrepreneurs and farmers. A presence in every county in Oregon and responsiveness to local concerns magnify the Division’s impact.
Let’s take a closer look.
Moving from Awareness to Action
Using the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps model, how long and how well we live are impacted by four major health factors (80% of which are not related to healthcare): Health behaviors (30%), Clinical Care (20%), Social & Economic Factors (40%), and Physical Environment (10%). Programs and services offered through the Division of University Outreach and Engagement—Extension Service, Ecampus, and PACE—directly improve the factors and measurements that move the gauge on better living.
The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program offers an action model similar to our outreach and engagement work. The online action model provides guidance to move from awareness to community action; identifies effective, research-based policies and programs; and a coaching resource is available to advance a culture of health (Raquel Bournhonesque is the community coach located in Oregon and serving the Northwest).
Here are a few examples of how Division efforts correspond directly to the action model advocated by The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program (quotes are from the program website):
“Better educated individuals live longer, healthier lives than those with less education, and their children are more likely to thrive.” OSU Open Campus, Ecampus and PACE support this area of individual and community health.
“Lifelong health habits, such as good nutrition, physical fitness and stress management, are developed in childhood.” 4-H tackles this head-on.
“A county’s health greatly affects its economic competitiveness. Achieving lower health care costs, fewer sick days, and increased productivity are all critical to economic growth.” SNAP-Ed and Family Community Health are devoted to healthy living education.
“The Community Development sector…shares a common focus on improving low- and moderate-income communities.” Extension helps agriculture, marine fisheries and other industries improve productivity, safety, and profitability with research-based and community supported initiatives.
“State and local government officials can…identify the barriers to good health in their communities, and mobilize community leaders to take action – investing in programs and policy changes that help residents lead healthier lives.” OSU Extension works hand-in-hand with county commissioners and other community leaders to identify needs and develop programs to meet those needs. State and county funding ensures Extension is integral to state and county efforts to nurture healthy communities.
“Clean air and safe water are prerequisites for health.” Poor water quality sickens people, threatens wildlife, and diminishes recreational opportunities. Needless to say, OSU Extension is at the forefront of supporting healthy, sustainable environments.
And that’s just the tip of the Division’s programs and actions.
“The Rankings data are only as valuable as the action it inspires and the lives it improves,” said Bridget Catlin, PhD, MHSA, co-director of the County Health Rankings. “…targeting resources to the people and places in greatest need is essential to building a Culture of Health. The Rankings are an important springboard for conversations on how to expand opportunity for all to be healthy.” And the Division is at the heart of addressing the root causes of health risk factors in Oregon’s 36 counties.