Understanding Our County’s Rankings
The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released new health data on March 19th for every county in the United States. There are three goals for this effort. The first is to help community leaders understand what influences the health of residents. The second is to identify challenges and opportunities to improve these outcomes for all. And the third is to help communities build a culture of health where people live, learn, work and play.
The data snapshot can be used as a starting point for interested residents working to improve health in Delaware County. The health rankings are designed to spur discussion about what can be done to improve the health of county residents and help them live long and healthy lives.
So how healthy are Delaware County residents? Learn more by going to the County Health Rankings page for Delaware County. Note: to see a fuller picture of findings for our area, please select the two checkboxes at the top of chart. One is labeled “Areas to explore.” (The data will appear in orange as you scroll down). The other is labeled “Show areas of strength.” (The data will appear in purple as you scroll down). We encourage you to focus on the county’s many areas of strength, as well as areas that need improvement. These provide a basis for us to work together in the coming years to improve health for Delaware County residents.
Delaware County is ranked 47 out of 67 PA counties in Health Outcomes
Health Outcomes (green row) includes measures on Length of Life and Quality of Life. These measures show the current health of county residents. Delaware County is ranked 47th out of 67 Pennsylvania counties in Health Outcomes. On Length of Life, the county ranks 33rd (average). On Quality of Life, the county ranks 59th. Quality of Life measures include “poor or fair health,” “poor physical health days”, “poor mental health days” and “low birthweight”. The low birthweight rate (which carries more importance in the rankings) is high (9 percent) and it has increased for African-American women since 2018 (13 percent). Poor mental health days is also high compared to other counties.
Delaware County is ranked 11 out of 67 PA counties in Health Factors
Health Factors (blue row) includes measures on Health Behaviors, Clinical Care, Social and Economic Factors, and Physical Environment. These are drivers of health, or things that can be modified to improve health. Delaware County is ranked 11th out of 67 counties in Health Factors. Rankings for Health Behaviors (6th), Clinical Care (10th), Social and Economic Factors (22nd) and Physical Environment (40th) reveal areas of strength and areas to explore. Fortunately, Delaware County has adequate numbers of health, mental health and dental providers. Areas where Delaware County has the greatest potential opportunity for improvement include: Adult smoking, Adult obesity, Sexually transmitted infections, Social associations, Violent crime and Severe housing problems. Two areas—Children in poverty and Sexually transmitted infections— show a negative trend (i.e. are getting worse).
For nearly a decade, the County Health Rankings have shown that where you live makes a difference in how well and how long you live. The 2019 analyses show that meaningful health gaps persist not only by place, but also by race and ethnicity. In Delaware County, significant gaps exist for Black and Hispanic populations in rates of Premature Death (deaths that occur before a person reaches an expected age of 75), Low Birthweight and Infant Mortality, Teen Birth Rate, Flu Vaccinations, and Children in Poverty.
There is a strong and growing evidence base linking stable and affordable housing to health. As housing costs have outpaced local incomes, households not only struggle to acquire and maintain adequate shelter, but also face difficult trade-offs in meeting other basic needs. The 2019 County Health Rankings reports show that counties with higher housing cost burdens (households paying 50% or more for housing expenses) tend to have more children living in poverty, more people who are food insecure, and more people in poor health. In Delaware County, 16% of all households (or 31,000 households) are considered to have a severe housing cost burden, that is, they spend 50% or more of their household income on housing.
Next Steps – Working to Improve Quality of Life for Delaware County Residents
The Foundation for Delaware County, through its programs and grantmaking, is working to improve the county’s health outcomes, with a particular focus on programs that improve health for the 50,000 county residents living in poverty. We are joined by numerous other organizations and individuals across the county with a similar mission to improve health. We invite you to join us as we work in partnership in the coming years.
You can also learn more about how the ranking model works and how it can be used to improve health in Delaware County. In addition, the County Health Rankings website has many other resources to help communities take action to improve health and learn from others.