Despite the today’s date, this next story is not a joke: Kodiak is the third healthiest community in Alaska. The only two towns that ranked higher share our approximate latitude, number one Juneau and number two Sitka. So maybe there’s something to be said for temperate coastal rainforest living.
Jayne Andreen is the Community Health Improvement Director for the State of Alaska.
“We know that where you live, and different demographics about a populations really have an impact on the overall quality of health for an area," she said. "So we know that communities that have a higher standard of living, have a higher education level, are going to be, overall, have a higher quality of health.”
She said the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation began issuing the county-by-county – or in Alaska’s case, by census area or borough – health report.
“What they have been doing is compiling data on the standard health elements, indicators, and breaking it down to the county level. With the idea being it would help support local efforts in improving your health status," Andreen said. "One of the problems that communities have across the country is, we’re really good at generating statewide data and national data, but sometimes it can be very challenging to get more localized data. And we know that the best opportunities we have to improving people’s health is when it’s happening at the local level.”
Andreen said the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation creates the reports using data compiled by the states.
“A lot of it is the behavior risk factor surveillance data, and that’s collected in Juneau for the state of Alaska and then it’s submitted for the CDC in Atlanta, and they then compile it publish it on a statewide and national level. So that’s where a lot of the data is coming from," she said. "Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is actually working with the University of Wisconsin. That’s where the county health rankings is actually coming out of. But they take these leading health indicators and then they develop rankings based on county.”
The final rankings are based on two scores, Health Outcomes and Health Factors. The first measures how long people in a community live, and how healthy they feel while alive. The second measures what influences the health of a community, and estimates the residents’ future health. The Health Factors ranks health-related behaviors, access to clinical care, socio-economic status and environmental factors.
Click here to view the Alaska results and delve a little deeper into what makes Kodiak so healthy.