Note: This has been updated from an earlier version.
Douglas County is the eighth healthiest county in Kansas, dropping four spots from last year.
The five least healthy are Cherokee, Montgomery, Wyandotte, Bourbon and Allen.
The report “County Health Rankings: Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health” was released late Tuesday. It was done by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
This is the second year for the report, which ranks the overall health of the counties in all 50 states by using a standard formula.
Here’s how Douglas County ranked in the specific health measures:
• No. 5 for mortality. It looks at years of potential life lost. In 2010: No. 3.
• No. 35 for morbidity. It is based on quality of life and birth outcomes. In 2010: No. 36.
• No. 8 for health behaviors. This includes smoking, diet, exercise, alcohol use and risky sex behavior. In 2010: No. 4.
• No. 35 for clinical care. This includes access to care and quality of care. In 2010: No. 20.
• No. 12 for social and economic factors. This includes education, employment, income, family and social support, and community safety. In 2010: No. 14.
• No. 88 for physical environment. This includes measures of environmental quality and the built environment. In 2010: No. 4.
Some of the criteria changed this year. For example, researchers looked at access to recreation centers instead of liquor store density, which is mainly why the county plummeted in physical environment. But, the measure is only 10 percent of the overall score.
Dan Partridge, director of the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, said the value of this report is that it generates conversation and provides an incentive for change.
“Riley County is healthier than us? That should matter,” he said.
Partridge’s primary areas of concern are access to care, adult diabetes, binge drinking and sexually-transmitted infections.
He is hoping that Heartland Community Health Center gets the Federally Qualified Health Center designation that it has applied for. That designation will bring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the community to provide more care to low-income residents.
“I’ve felt like that’s been needed for a long time,” he said.
He is discouraged by the county’s inactivity and obesity rates.
“With diabetes, we went from being one of the healthier counties to we are no better than the rest of the state,” he said. “That just doesn’t fit with the image of Douglas County and Lawrence. We perceive ourselves as being physically fit and active, and a little more immune to diabetes, but we aren’t.”