The 30th annual report examines 35 measures of health that include factors that influence health, broken into four categories: behaviors, community and environment, policy and clinical care, and health outcomes. Kentucky ranked 42nd for the factors, which are also called determinants, and 44th for outcomes.
|To enlarge any chart from the report, click on it.|
It ranked 29th in the community and environment category, which includes one of the state's strengths, a low prevalence of violent crime.
It should come as no surprise that the behavior category, which includes drug deaths, obesity, physical inactivity and smoking, is the one where Kentucky ranks the lowest, since these are some of the state's greatest ongoing health challenges. Kentucky ranked 49th in health behaviors.
|Obesity in Kentucky rose this year; it declined nationwide.|
That said, two of the state's strengths also fall in this category: a low prevalence of excessive drinking, 15.9%; and a high rate of high school students graduating, 89.7%.
Kentucky ranked 43rd for clinical care. Standing out in this category is the state's rank for preventable hospitalizations, at 76.6 per 1,000 Medicare enrollees, the worst in the nation. The national rate is 49.4.
Kentucky ranked 44th for its health outcomes. It placed in the national top 10 for six bad outcomes: first in cancer deaths; second for frequent mental distress; fourth for premature deaths; fifth for frequent physical distress; seventh in diabetes, with a rate that has jumped from 12.5% to 13.7% in the last four years; and ninth for cardiovascular deaths.
The online report also comes with an interactive "Adjust My Rank" tool that lets you select four to eight measures and see what kinds of changes would need to happen to improve Kentucky's health ranking. For example, it shows that if Kentucky was able to raise its high school graduation rate to 93.8%, decrease its obesity rate to 32.8%, decrease its smoking rate to 20.2% and decrease its physical inactivity rate to 28.6%, it could dig itself out of a bottom 10 ranking and rank 39th again.