A recent study shows that New Haven County may be lagging behind its peers in health outcome measures.
The County Health Rankings — developed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute — deemed New Haven County one of the least healthy counties in Connecticut after ranking counties across United States based on two criteria: health outcomes and health factors.
Health outcomes rankings consider length and quality of life to quantify a county’s current health level. Health factors, meanwhile, account for health-related behaviors that may influence the county’s future health, such as smoking and physical inactivity, in addition to socioeconomic demographics and environmental factors like access to medical care.
New Haven ranked eighth and seventh, out of Connecticut’s eight counties, for health outcomes and health factors, respectively. Only Windham County received a lower health factors ranking.
The report pointed to an overall increase in adult obesity and sexually transmitted infections over the past decade, as well as increased unemployment and numbers of children living in poverty. New Haven County’s violent crime rate (406 reported offenses per 100,000 people) has stayed relatively constant, but remains well above the overall rate in Connecticut (279 reported offenses per 100,000 people).
Still, trends over the past decade showed improvements in clinical care in New Haven County, including a decrease in the number of uninsured people in Connecticut, as well as fewer preventable hospital stays and an increase in monitoring of diabetes.
In a press release surrounding the report’s release, organizations involved revealed hope that the rankings will facilitate community-based health improvements by drawing attention to the problems they point out.
“We’ve seen [the rankings] serve as a rallying point for change,” Bridget Catlin, senior scientist at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and co-director of the County Health Rankings, said in the release. “Communities are using the Rankings to inform their priorities as they work to build a Culture of Health.”
The County Health Rankings were first released in 2010.