The US Counties Drivers of Health Study aims to measure health performance across counties in the United States and increase our understanding of what drives these outcomes within 24 counties. This work encompasses two separate research components, the Women’s Life Expectancy Study and the County Health Status Study.
The Women’s Life Expectancy Study is an investigation of 10 counties that have experienced unexplained changes in women’s mortality. The County Health Status Study is a comparison of health outcomes among 20 counties and an exploration of how county environments influence health. Six of the selected counties are part of both studies. When taken together, these 24 counties offer a diverse representation of county demographics, health, and contexts across the United States. While some of the aims, methodologies, and results may differ, both studies take a mixed-methods approach to examining the drivers of health at the county level. This work is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
|Christopher J.L. Murray, MD, DPhil||Principal Investigator|
|Ali Mokdad, PhD||Principal Investigator|
Women's Life Expectancy Team Members
|Charbel El Bcheraoui, PhD, MSc||Co-Investigator|
|Joseph Dieleman, PhD||Faculty|
|Kaylin Bolt, MEd, MSW, MPH||Researcher|
|Erin Palmisano, BA||Project Officer & Primary Contact|
|Casey Johanns, BS||Data Analyst|
US Counties Health Status Team Members
|Laura Dwyer-Lindgren, MPH||Researcher|
|Chloe Morozoff, MPH||Project Officer|
|Amelia Bertozzi-Villa, BA||Post-Bachelor Fellow|
|Rebecca Stubbs, BA||Post-Bachelor Fellow|
|Ann Madhavan, MLS||Data Indexer|
|Aubrey Levine, MSPH||Survey Methodologist|
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the study center at (844) 847-7895 or email us at [email protected].
The purpose of our research is to gather detailed information about the health of counties in the United States. Our results will provide a better understanding of what is keeping people healthy in some counties, what is causing health problems in others, and why these differences exist. We hope this work will positively impact the health of communities across the United States by providing useful information to community leaders and public health officials.
In our prior research, we have found that life expectancy has been falling in hundreds of US counties and disparities have increased. The gap in life expectancy between highest- and lowest-performing counties for women has grown from 10.5 years in 1985 to 14 years in 2013. For men during the same period, this gap increased from 13.7 to 19 years.
Of particular interest is life expectancy among women, where differences in the rate of decline are staggering. While some counties saw great improvements, life expectancy among women stagnated or declined in nearly half of US counties. Work on investigating these disparities has often been unable to provide an explanation for the large differences in longevity observed between counties.
Through a mixed-methods approach, we seek to investigate health outcomes of 24 counties while taking into account individual, interpersonal, communal, institutional, systemic, and structural-level factors. The differences between the two funded studies is explained further below.
US Counties Drivers of Health Study
The US Counties Drivers of Health Study will provide a comprehensive look at health outcomes at the county level. Findings will be integrated to assess barriers to health, identify actionable steps for overcoming these obstacles, and inform health improvement strategies.
US Counties Health Status Study
The US Counties Health Status Study will utilize new and existing data in order to produce comprehensive and comparable assessments of health for 20 US counties. This effort will also rely on direct data collection through a survey to gather missing information on health behaviors and other risk factors from county residents. Interviews will be conducted with community stakeholders within these counties in order to gain a comprehensive awareness of factors outside the health domain.
Women’s Life Expectancy Study
The Women’s Life Expectancy Study will provide a detailed examination of what drives disparities in female longevity trends. This will focus on 10 counties and further explore what may be affecting change in mortality rates among women. Interviews with stakeholders in each county will provide a deeper understanding of community-level factors. Focus group discussions with women living in these counties will provide information about their everyday circumstances, exposures, and choices.
The representatives and residents of each county will make this study possible and will contribute to knowledge that will expand our knowledge of heath disparities help policymakers close the gaps. This is an opportunity for communities to provide information that may inform policymakers about the health needs of their county. There is no monetary incentive for individuals participating in this research study.
If you have any questions that were not answered here, please feel free to contact the study center toll-free at (844) 847-7895 or email us at [email protected].
If you are a participant in any component of this study and have any questions regarding your rights as a research participant, please call a representative of the Human Subjects Committee at the University of Washington at (206) 543-0098.