A healthy city is a more competitive city, and Louisville’s health is influenced by a variety of factors. Our data suggest that we must address health behaviors, the health of our environment, and the accessibility of quality health care in order to advance Louisville to the top tier of our peers on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s healthy days metric. To get there we have to take care of our urban environment, promote healthful behaviors, and provide access to high-quality healthcare for all Louisvillians.
Health outcomes measure the impact of a community’s health infrastructure. A community must have access to preventive, chronic, and emergency medical care in order to thrive. Using health outcomes allows insight into the factors and the variables impacting the outcome. Louisville ranks 9th among peers in health outcomes.
Social and economic health is a measure of the total sum of factors influencing the wellbeing of a community, including factors such as people in high wage occupations, injury mortality rates, violent crimes, and social associations. The measure is a summary review of community wellbeing and approximates the total result of those factors. Louisville ranks 12th among peers in social and economic factors. Learn more about this metric.
Investing in a community’s ability to engage in healthy and safe behaviors is vital to decreasing negative health outcomes, preventing infections and diseases, and even reducing mental health problems. Using factors such as obesity rates, smoking rates, and alcohol related deaths, an outline of community behavior and wellness can take shape and provide a clear indicator of what needs must be assessed to improve community health. Learn more about this metric.
Access to clinical care is important for maintaining the health of a community. Clinical care access is an excellent indicator for the status of a community’s overall health infrastructure, including access to providers and services and environmental and other factors that impact and support the public’s access to care. Using factors such as available dentists and medical care providers coupled with insurance rates gives an overview of a community’s health infrastructure, enhancing our ability to target needed efforts. Learn more about this metric.
Physical environment metrics measure the health of the environment as well as factors that impact a healthy environment such as transportation and housing. A community’s physical environment impacts the economy directly and indirectly through health and safety costs. Setting goals to reduce pollution, address the housing crisis, and improve the transit infrastructure can result in a general improvement of the health of a community. Louisville ranks 9th in physical environment. Learn more about this metric.
For each indicator, Greater Louisville Project assigns cities into one of three groups (high-performing, middle-of-the-pack, and low-performing) based on how they compare to other cities. The assignment is based on how cities naturally cluster on that indicator. Sometimes, the differences between cities are very small, and the difference between a city ranked 5th and 6th could simply be a matter of the sampling error that arises from using survey data. Thus, rather than always make a division that declares the top 5 to be the top tier, we use a natural breaks algorithm to look for a cluster of cities that is outperforming the rest, a cluster that is about average, and a cluster that is lagging. This clustering gives us a better indication of where Louisville is thriving and where Louisville has room to learn from cities that are doing better.
Z-scores (or standardization) is a way to combine data with different units of measurement into a single index. The z-score is a measure of how far away a city (or census tract, etc.) is from the average city. In order to be comparable across different units of measurement, the z-score is the distance from the mean measured in standard deviations (e.g. if Louisville has a z-score of 1 it means Louisville is 1 standard deviation above the mean of its peer cities).
Data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's County Health Rankings use z-scores and all z-scores are relative to the mean of Louisville's peer cities. (On the County Health Rankings site z-scores are relative to all the counties in each state - thus z-scores reported by GLP will be different, because we are using a different reference group). The Greater Louisville Project also uses z-scores in our multidimensional poverty index, which compares each census tract to the mean of all census tracts in Louisville.