Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Using the Wisconsin County Health Rankings to Catalyze Community Health Improvement

Rohan, Angela M. K. PhD; Booske, Bridget C. PhD, MHSA; Remington, Patrick L. MD, MPH

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice: January/February 2009 - Volume 15 - Issue 1 - p 24–32
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e3181903bf8
Tools for Evaluating the Impacts of Community Health Assessments

Background: Assessment is a core function of public health; however, standard community health assessments often remain within the boundaries of the traditional public health system and rarely elicit public discussion and community-wide action. The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute developed the annual Wisconsin County Health Rankings (Rankings) report in 2003 with three primary goals: (1) to increase media attention to local health outcomes and determinants; (2) to highlight the broad range of factors that influence health; and (3) to catalyze community health improvement efforts.

Methods: We assessed how well the Rankings met these goals through an examination of media coverage and a survey of the local public health community following the 2006 report.

Findings: Newspaper, television, and radio media across the state covered the Rankings, highlighting local results for outcomes and a broad range of determinants. Local public health officials used the Rankings for educating policy makers and community partners, performing needs assessments, and identifying program targets.

Conclusions: The Rankings report is an approach to community health assessment that has received media attention and been found to be useful by local public health officials in their community health improvement efforts.

This article describes the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute's annual Wisconsin County Health Rankings report that catalyzes community health improvement to meet the goals through an examination of media coverage and a survey of the local public health community following the 2006 report.

Angela M. K. Rohan, PhD, is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists Applied Epidemiology Fellow. She was a research assistant for the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, at the time of this project.

Bridget C. Booske, PhD, MHSA, is Senior Scientist and Director of the Population Health Assessment Program at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison.

Patrick L. Remington, MD, MPH, is Director of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute; Director of the University of Wisconsin MPH Program; and Professor of Population Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison.

Corresponding Author: Bridget C. Booske, PhD, MHSA, University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, 610 Walnut St, Suite 760, Madison, WI 53726 (bbooske@wisc.edu).

The authors thank David Ahrens, Jessica Athens, Dave Kindig, Jeff Niederdeppe, Paul Peppard, Barb Theis, and Peter Vila, Wisconsin health officers and regional epidemiologists, and Media Solutions of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health for their contributions to the Wisconsin County Health Rankings. Additional information about the Wisconsin County Health Rankings can be found on-line at http://www.pophealth.wisc.edu/uwphi/research/wi_county_rankings.htm.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.