Delaware County is the healthiest county in Ohio, while Pike County is the least healthy in the state, according to the annual county health rankings released last week by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
In its seventh year, the county health rankings are composed of more than 20 national data sources to evaluate the length and quality of life in each county of the country. The research took into account more than 30 health factors, including drinking and smoking habits, food environment, access to clinical/care and education.
“The rankings are an easy-to-use snapshot of the overall health of nearly every county in the nation,” said Elizabeth Pollock, an associate researcher with the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps. “They show us that where we live matters to our health, and they make it clear that good health is influenced by many factors beyond just medical care, including education, jobs, access to healthy food, community safety, housing and more.”
Delaware County, located north of Columbus, ranks first among the 88 counties in Ohio, followed by Geauga County, Putnam County and Union County.
According to the report, Delaware County has the lowest premature death rate and the best clinical care in Ohio. The unemployment rate is 4 percent, lower than the state average of 5.7 percent. Only 5 percent of children in Delaware County are in poverty, compared to Ohio’s 23 percent average. Violent crime and injury deaths are also significantly below the state average.
Pike County ranks the last among the 88 counties in Ohio, scoring the lowest in length and quality of life. The report shows that 20 percent of the adults surveyed by phone in Pike County have reported poor or fair health.
In Pike County, residents’ access to clinical care lags behind that of the state as a whole. The ratio of primary care physicians to patients is one to 3,150, compared to Ohio’s average of one to 1,300. Pike County has one mental health provider for every 3,140 people, while the state average is one for every 640 people.
“Communities are ranked on factors that they can do something about,” Pollock said. “Community leaders can look closely at the rankings for their county to see where they stand, find common ground, and pinpoint actions that can improve health.”
The five least healthy counties in Ohio are Pike, Adams, Gallia, Vinton and Jackson Counties.
“Communities are also using the rankings to invite new partners to the table, such as leaders in education, business and community development, to take action toward better health,” Pollock said.
Athens County ranks 68th with a 23 percent smoking population and high cases of sexually-transmitted infections. The ratio of dentists to patients is one to 4,310, much lower than the state’s average of one to 1,710.
Athens County was listed as the poorest county in Ohio by USA Today’s 24/7 Wall St., which was based on five-year-estimated-median annual household incomes from 2010 through 2014 using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.