Those of you who have worked in the public health field for a while are probably already familiar with the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps (CHR&R) program. A joint effort of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the CHR&R program “works to improve health outcomes for all and to close the health disparities between those with the most and least opportunities for good health.” I found out about this awesome resource via an online course I’m currently taking called “Assessing and Improving Community Health” through the University of Michigan.
The big idea behind the CHR&R program is that health equity is of paramount importance, and the project’s stated goals are as follows:
- Build awareness of the multiple factors that influence health.
- Provide a reliable, sustainable source of local data and evidence to communities to help them identify opportunities to improve their health.
- Engage and activate local leaders from many sectors in creating sustainable community change.
- Connect & empower community leaders working to improve health.
Further, The CHR&R program focuses on people’s health in nearly every U.S. county by providing “data, evidence, guidance, and examples to build awareness of the multiple factors that influence health and support community leaders working to improve health and increase health equity.”
I’m working on the final project for my course now, and the CHR&R has proven to be an invaluable resource. My plan is to create three interventions for health disparities in a U.S. county that will remain nameless, where much of the population falls into the category of “lower socioeconomic status” or lower SES. The project asks that we identify three suboptimal population health outcomes that have beset the population I’ve chosen to focus on, and to correlate these outcomes with social determinants of health (SDOH) that, if improved, would result in a corresponding improvement in the population health outcomes.
As I said above, I’ve chosen to focus on a specific U.S. county, and three population health outcomes that score low on the CHR&R for this county are adult obesity, teen births, and mammography screening. SDOH that the county scores low on include access to exercise opportunities, percentage of residents who have attended some college, and the percentage of those residents who are uninsured. In my essay I will attempt, for example, to make an argument that, by designing exercise programs, building walking trails, etc. for adults, this will open up exercising opportunities and thus lead to a corresponding decline in adult obesity.
That’s the theory, anyway.
I’m currently in the research stage of this project and have only sketched out a few ideas. But I thought it might be helpful to share the CHR&R resource with you all in case it would come in handy in your work. I’ll follow up once I get further into my research and share any interesting facts that I come across along the way.