Monday, June 3, 2013

America’s Health Rankings Announces New Healthy Seniors Report and Changes Ahead from BRFSS

By Rebecca Polan, Project Consultant
On May 29th, America’s Health Rankings announced the availability of a new report on the health of senior citizens, using the same state-by-state rankings released each year for the general population.  The web-based report draws from BRFSS data (the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System), and delivers maps that demonstrate how the senior populations are faring in each state along health indicators including diabetes, obesity, and physical activity.  While Minnesota is the 5th healthiest state for the general population, its senior population is the healthiest in the nation.  The state of Mississippi is in last place for both populations. 

In its 2012 Annual Report, America’s Health Rankings announced that it has established a new baseline from which all future changes will be compared.  This is because the CDC’s BRFSS (the world’s largest ongoing telephone health survey) has changed its methods of gathering data to better reflect the growth of cell-phone only households (which includes this blogger!), as well as the increasing diversity of households within a state.  When BRFSS data is released later this year, the reported prevalence of many of the behavioral measures such as smoking, drinking, and diabetes, may look much higher than the previous year.  However, the difference may be partly due to this change in data collection and analysis method.  According to America’s Health Rankings, “The new estimates are superior to estimates collected in prior years and set the standard going forward in the new baseline.” 

Below are some links for identifying or updating your service area’s needs:

       County Health Rankings

       Community Health Status Indicators

       Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS)


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