Troup ranks in bottom half of health study
Published 9:00 am Thursday, March 30, 2023
According to a recent health study by the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute, Troup County is in the bottom half of Georgia counties in overall health and wellness.
UWPHI ranked Troup County number 82 out of 159 Georgia counties.
The County Health Rankings and Roadmaps is a program of UWPHI that provides local communities with data on more than 90 health-influencing factors such as housing, education, jobs and access to quality health care.
According to a press release from UWPHI, for more than a decade the rankings’ data, evidence, guidance and stories have broadened the nation’s understanding of the multiple factors that shape health.
In 2023, they found that counties with well-resourced civic infrastructure have higher rates of high school completion, higher household incomes, less income inequality and lower rates of children in poverty and uninsured adults. According to the press release, in these communities, people tend to live longer.
“Every year County Health Rankings and Roadmaps ranks nearly every county in the nation on their overall health. What’s really important to understand is that County Health Rankings and Roadmaps looks at health in a holistic way,” Michael Stevenson, evidence and policy analysis team leader said.
“We look at things like access to health care and health behaviors, all of which shape how well and how long people live, but importantly, we also consider things like socio-economic conditions, income employment opportunities, and know that there are strong connections between those factors and health.”
“When counties are looking at their data, it’s important they look at where their county ranks within the context of the state. We encourage counties to really dig deep and look at specific measures and see what’s going well and where there’s an opportunity for improvement.”
Albeit ranking 82 isn’t the highest, Miranda Helms, quality improvement and accreditation coordinator for the District 4 of the Georgia Department of Public Health, said the rankings are overall fair and are based on a conceptual model of population health that includes health outcomes (length and quality of life) and health factors (determinants of health).
“The ranking, published by UWPHI, make every effort to provide reliable data, however, it should be understood some margin of error that can make the results less reliable,” Helms said.
Helms said health factors that contribute to Troup County’s ranking of 82 include:
- A high percentage of adults who are current smokers (22%),
- A high percentage of obesity among the adult population (42%, up from 30% in 2018),
- A high percentage of adults 18 years and older that report no leisure-time physical activity (66%),
- A high percentage of alcohol-impaired driving,
- A high percentage of sexually transmitted infections,
- High ratio of preventable hospital stays in people enrolled in Medicare
- Low ratio of female Medicare enrollees ages 65-74 that received an annual mammography screening (33%, down from 60% in 2018)
- A high percentage of children living in poverty
“Troup County residents can improve their health and impact the overall health ranking in Troup County by quitting smoking, increasing physical activity and healthy eating habits, not using alcohol or other substances and getting behind the wheel, and obtaining preventative primary care to have necessary health screenings,” Helms said.
She said District 4 Public Health uses the county health rankings to ensure programs and initiatives are data-informed and implemented.
“The rankings are included in the District 4 Public Health Community Health Assessments and inform the development and implementation of the District 4 Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), which is a regional 5-year plan developed and implemented with community partners, stakeholders, and members,” Helms said.
“District 4 is in the process of developing a new CHIP, which will include four priority areas: access to care, behavioral and mental health, social determinants of health, and wellness and healthy lifestyles.”
According to the rankings, Troup County ranked high in sexually transmitted diseases, and obesity and surprisingly low in access to exercise opportunities, considering The Thread and the number of parks available. Helms said Troup County has great community resources for physical activity. However, more people need to know what’s available to them and how to utilize it.
“People can do this by conducting community-wide campaigns to promote the benefits of physical activity and the available opportunities to engage in physical activity by creating community and individual community support systems to hold each other accountable in physical activities,” Helms said.
Stevenson said the effects of COVID-19 can be seen in the study and the pandemic’s impact is going to be felt for years to come.
“There is no question that COVID has had a significant impact on our health and well-being. We are still understanding the impacts that COVID-19 had on our health,” Stevenson said. “Last year, we focused on the importance of economic security and adjusted recovery. What we’re against with COVID is that it was not equally distributed across the US. Some places really carried the burden of the impacts, so we’re continuing to monitor trends closely around COVID-19.”
Stevenson said every county has room for improvement but also areas of strength.
“These problems look big when we’re talking about our community health and our community’s wellbeing, however, it’s important to emphasize that we have the power to create change and that there are things that we can do within our communities to make them healthier.”
For more information on District 4 Public Health and its services and programs visit https://www.district4health.org/.