Ranks can improve or worsen for one or more reason:
Your county experienced health gains or losses
Change in a rank can be due to actual change in the underlying measures that comprise the summary rank.
Other counties experienced health gains or losses
A rank may also improve or worsen not due to change in your own county’s measures, but rather because of changes in counties ranked just above or below your county within the state.
Random variation in measure estimates
A fluctuation in county rank may be caused by random variation in the measures that comprise the rank.
Changes in ranked measures or their methods
Ranks can be influenced by the introduction of new measures or a change in the methods for current measures.
In order to better understand why your county’s rank may have changed from the previous year, the best place to start is by examining the individual measures and z-scores that comprise the rank. When examining each of these underlying components, it is helpful to explore the following:
Your county’s estimates over time;
Are measure values increasing, decreasing, or staying the same? For instance, take a look at the trend graph for your county’s premature death estimate. Is premature death in your county increasing, decreasing, or staying the same? How does your county’s trend compare to the state or national trend? Looking more closely at changes over time in your county’s underlying estimates can help you better understand your county’s progress and potential influence on the change in your rank.
The error margins associated with your county’s estimates.
Another thing to consider is the error associated with the estimates comprising the rank. Year-to-year, even if your county’s true rate does not change, there will be some fluctuation in the estimate due to random variation. For instance, it is possible to see substantial change in your county’s premature death rate from the previous year, but if the rate is within the margin of error for the previous year’s premature death estimate, the change may be partially or almost completely due to random fluctuation in estimates from year-to-year.
You can contact us through the ‘get help’ button on the website with any specific questions regarding why your county’s rank changed.