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Project updates, commentaries, events and news about health across the nation from the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps team.

Study: Investments in non-health sectors have positive impacts on length, quality of life

Publication date

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps (CHR&R) have contributed to a growing understanding that the chance for everyone to live long and well means far more than having access to a doctor. It’s also about opportunities for education and jobs, safe and affordable housing, availability of nutritious food and places for physical activity and access to social services. Important factors that communities have the power to do something about. A new study featured in this month’s Health Affairs by J. Mac McCullough of Arizona State University and Jonathon P. Leider of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health explores how health and non-health related public spending can influence population health and well-being.

Using public expenditure data from the US Census Bureau and the Rankings, the study found that investments in non-health sectors, including K-12 education, libraries, housing and community development, can have a meaningful, positive impact on length and quality of life for a community’s residents.

These findings also underscore why it’s important for leaders across sectors to come together - many of whom may not have considered themselves to be influencers of health before now – to find common ground, align their efforts and coordinate their actions for sustained progress. Communities aren’t likely to see dramatic improvements in health outcomes from year-to-year, but allocating resources outside health sectors, building collaborative networks throughout the community and making data informed decisions can contribute to improved health over time.

Funded by the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program, the study was one of five research grants awarded to support novel analyses of the Rankings data, refine the approach, or explore the impact of the Rankings on local communities. 

Visit the Roadmaps to Health Action Center for helpful partner guides for a broad range of sectors.