The fifth edition of Indicators of Healthy Communities, first issued in 1997, finds the Cincinnati indicators of health, such as poverty and education rates, air quality, prenatal care, and people living with tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS are better than or comparable to national averages. Mortality rates for stroke, heart disease and cancer have decreased but they are still higher than the national average.
However, rates of sexually transmitted diseases in Hamilton County are many times higher than the national rates and are considered a “mini-epidemic,” says the report’s author, Xavier associate professor of health services administration Dr. Edmond Hooker.
The report includes more than 40 indicators capturing aspects of health and wellness in the 15-county Tristate area. The report was compiled by the Health Improvement Collaborative of Greater Cincinnati, Xavier and United Way of Greater Cincinnati.
“This report is intended to establish a baseline of Tristate health and well-being that will serve as a catalyst for community dialogue and action,” said Greg Ebel, executive director of the collaborative.
The 2011 report includes trended charts and a website, that will be continually updated as new data become available.
Indicators of Healthy Communities serves as a snapshot in time of health indicators in Greater Cincinnati and provides one convenient place for organizations and individuals to gather local and regional health information.
“Health is one of United Way’s three areas of focus—improving people’s health and independence. This report helps us determine the progress our region is making towards that goal, and where we need to work to improve,” said Robert C. Reifsnyder, president and CEO of the United Way.
There are areas of relatively positive comparison in the report: poverty rates better than the national average; relatively stable education rates that are comparable to the nation; air that is getting cleaner, prenatal care rates better than the national average, tuberculosis rates lower than the national average and low rates of individuals living with HIV/AIDS.
Mortality rates for stroke, heart disease and cancer have all decreased but remain higher than the national average.
“This report is critical to help us focus on areas of health that we must improve,” Hooker said. “We hope it will be used extensively by public and private organizations in the area to identify shared opportunities to improve health.”
Sources of data for the report include the Greater Cincinnati Community Health Status Survey, the U.S. Census Bureau, municipal, county, state and federal government sources, among others.
The report is divided into nine areas: a demographic overview of Greater Cincinnati; environmental factors influencing health; maternal, child and infant health; health behaviors; behavioral and mental health; infectious disease; health service utilization; mortality; and injury death. The data are compared to state and national numbers where available, and to Healthy People 2020, a set of 10-year goals for improving the health of all Americans. In the full report, a narrative written by an area health expert accompanies each indicator to help the reader interpret the data.