The Rankings are just a starting point for assessing your county’s health. Depending on which state you live in, there may be more current data available, or there may be data for important drivers of health that are not included in the Rankings. Here are some pointers on what to look for and where to look:
- Progress can be measured by looking at the outcomes of your work and/or the steps (process) you are taking to improve your community's health, so try to identify overall metrics as well as key actionable indicators.
- Visit your state home page to look for other sources of data to help you examine progress.
- The Community Tool Box provides a helpful overview of how to find and use community-level indicators. As you select your indicators, consider whether they are available, accurate, possible to collect and relevant to the initiative. Also, Gathering Information: Monitoring your Progress (from the Community Tool Box) includes guidance on monitoring process and outcome measures.
- See our guides to Trend Analysis and Interpreting Visual Trends for additional assistance.
- Sometimes, other sources of data won’t be available and you may find yourself needing to do some primary data collection. If this is necessary, we strongly recommend that you contact your state health department or a local university to assist you. For example, if you want to collect data by surveying members of your community, look for a survey expert to assist you with the design of your survey instrument and analysis of your data. (See Data Collection section of Evaluate Guide). Also, consider reading Conducting Surveys to better understand the pros and cons of this data collection method.
- You also might want to look for data that is broken out into different subgroups - just because your overall health is improving does not mean that health is improving for every population group in your community.