Report shows much room for improvement in Wisconsin’s health

December 16, 2016

A new report by researchers at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute gives Wisconsin a grade of B– for overall health, but no better than a C for those without a high school education and for African-Americans and Native Americans. Of great concern is that Wisconsin’s health is falling behind other states since the first Health of Wisconsin Report Card was released a decade ago. 

Also of concern is Wisconsin’s ranking in the widely publicized America’s Health State Rankings, the longest running state-by-state analysis of the nation’s health. Wisconsin fell from 6th in 1992 to 11th in 2006, and is ranked 20th in the recently released 2016 report.

“We can and must do much better,’’ says Patrick Remington, associate dean for public health and interim director of the Population Health Institute at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

As part of its mission to translate research into policy and practice, the institute prepares the Health of Wisconsin Report Card every three years to track Wisconsin’s progress in improving health and eliminating health disparities, and to catalyze discussion and action to achieve longer, healthier lives for all.

“Obviously, we need to move from discussion to action if we’re going to stop Wisconsin’s race to the bottom of state health rankings. Improving our quality of life and economic progress depend on it,” Remington says. While America’s Health State Rankings gives an overall state numerical rank, Remington says it’s important to look at the details, especially the underlying gaps in health, as noted in the Report Card, for different groups of people within the state.

“We know that reaching the goal of longer, healthier lives for all requires us to focus on creating opportunities for health not only in medical care but also in the social, behavioral and environmental factors that influence health — and that can improve these grades,” says Remington.

The Health of Wisconsin Report Card is funded by the Wisconsin Partnership Program at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. To read the full report online, including corresponding PowerPoint slides, visit the UW Population Health Institute website.

Tags: health, research