Annual county health report ranks Lincoln 79

Published 1:38 pm Thursday, April 6, 2017

An annual health report has ranked Lincoln County 79 out of the state’s 120 counties in overall health outcomes, according to data released last week.

The report, released annually by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation since 2011, measures several aspects of living that can affect the health of a community. 

There are eight composite scores divided into two main groups: overall health outcomes and overall health factors. The health outcomes measures length of life and quality of life, while health factors is broken down into four categories including health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment. 

While Lincoln County’s overall health ranking worsened from 71 in 2016 to 79 this year, other health rankings included in the data saw improvement. The county ranks 77 in health factors this year compared to last year’s rank of 88. 

In line with the state’s trend of rising premature death rates, Lincoln County has seen a steady increase in the years of potential life lost before age 75. According to the County Health Rankings website, for every death under the age of 75, the total number of potential years of life lost contributes to the premature death rate. 

Lincoln’s premature death rate of 10,100 is slightly above the state average of 8,900. In 2011, the premature death rate for Lincoln was 9,233. 

Experts say the premature death rate is fueled by drug overdoses, which accounted for nearly 1,250 deaths in 2015, according to the Overdose Fatality Report by the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy,” Danielle Ray of Kentucky Health News reported. 
According to the same overdose fatality report, 16 overdose deaths were reported in Lincoln County between 2012-2015. Those deaths “represent overdoses by illicit and/or prescription drugs that were inflicted intentionally or unintentionally,” the report states. 
Surrounding counties had similar statistics with Garrard County reporting 15 overdose deaths in that time period; Casey, 11; Boyle, 20; and Rockcastle, 19. There were 50 overdose deaths in Pulaski County during that time, according to the report. 

The number of alcohol-impaired driving deaths in Lincoln is improving, according to the annual health data, while sexually transmitted infections are getting worse. 

Socioeconomic factors are also calculated into the county’s overall health ranking and this year’s data shows improvement as Lincoln was ranked 79 in comparison to last year’s ranking of 91. The high school graduation rate improved by 5% from last year to 95% this year. Unemployment also improved from 8.7% to 6.9% and the percentage of children in poverty improved from 35% to 31%. in the recent data.

President and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky Ben Chandler commented on the recent findings in a new release and said the rankings “show that people living in Eastern and rural Kentucky counties tend to have much poorer health than those in urban Kentucky counties.”

Lincoln’s 2017 health data showed little change in measures such as adult obesity (31%), physical inactivity (34%), the number of uninsured (12%); diabetes monitoring (89%);  mammography screening (48%); and  violent crime (47). 

Lincoln County received it’s best health ranking in 2016 as it was ranked 71 out of the state’s 120 counties but since 2011 has remained in the lower to mid-80’s in ranking. The worst ranking Lincoln County received was in the 2014 health report which placed the county at 87. 

Compared to the five surrounding counties, Lincoln lands near the middle of the pack when it comes to health rankings this year. 

Other counties overall health outcomes ranking:
• Boyle County – 21
• Casey County – 81 
• Garrard County – 64
• Rockcastle County – 100 
• Pulaski County – 72 

SO YOU KNOW
For more information and to find an interactive map of your county’s ranking visit http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/app/kentucky/2017/rankings/outcomes/overall.