Explore Your Snapshot

The county snapshots provide tools to help make sense of county-level data. The snapshot data and these accompanying tools should be used to help understand what is happening in the community, what has happened over time, and for picking priorities and setting future goals.

County snapshot content

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Indicator of how healthy a county is by quartiles, showing both health outcomes and health factors.

At the top of each county snapshot there are two graphics dividing the counties in the state into four equal groupings, called quartiles. Quartiles for both Health Outcomes and Health Factors range from the least healthy to healthiest counties within each state.  Each quartile contains 25% of the counties in the state, with healthier counties displayed further to the right on the graphic. A county with a rank of #1 lies in the healthiest quartile. 

These graphics provide an indication of where the county fares relative to other counties in the state without direct comparison of individual county ranks. County Health Rankings encourages users viewing a snapshot to reference the quartiles for overall comparison of counties within a state.  

Measures

County-level values are reported for the 35 measures used to calculate the health outcome and health factor ranks and for many additional (unranked) measures. 

Where possible and meaningful, we provide measures disaggregated by race/ethnicity, which can be accessed by clicking on measure values that are blue and underlined. 

An ⓘ icon to the left of the county measure value contains additional information about the measure. An ⓘ icon can also indicate whether the data may be compared with prior years.  For premature death, the ⓘ icon identifies the five leading causes of death for the county. Deaths attributed to COVID-19 before age 75 will also be displayed in this table

Trends

Trend graphs are available for 16 measures (click on the graph icon in the Trend column of the county snapshot). The color of the line in the icon shows the direction of the measure trend in the county: 

  • Red - The county value is trending worse for this measure
  • Yellow - The county value shows no significant trends
  • Green - The county value is trending better for this measure 
  • Black - Additional information is needed to interpret the trend for this measure 

Visit Understanding Trends Over Time to find more information on interpreting trend graphs. 

Error margins

Where possible, we provide the error margins (95% confidence intervals) for the county measure values. These error margins should be interpreted as “we are 95% confident that the true measure value for this county lies within the provided range.” 

Top U.S. performers

Only the top 10% of counties in the U.S. are doing better than the value displayed in the Top U.S. performers column.  

The Top U.S. performers are calculated by the 90th percentile or 10th percentile, depending on whether the measure is framed positively (where a high value is better than a lower value) or negatively (where a low value is better than a higher value). 

A list of the Top Performer values is available. Top U.S. Performers are not calculated for measures which are not comparable across states.

State value

Each county's corresponding state values are included for comparison. State values may be calculated or may represent the midpoint (median) of county values within the state. 

Race/ethnicity data Where available, County Health Rankings provides data for American Indian & Alaska Native, Asian, Black, Hispanic, and White population groups within a county.
Areas to explore & areas of strength

The Areas to Explore and Areas of Strength checkboxes at the top of the county snapshot highlight, respectively, potential challenges the community may want to examine more closely, and factors that are current community assets. 

Areas of Strength and Areas to Explore are calculated for ranked health factors measures to highlight where a significant improvement or decline will lead to a similar change in overall Health Factor Rank. Areas of Strength/Areas to Explore are intended to serve as a starting point for identifying areas of strength or prioritizing areas for improvement in your county. 

Areas to Explore and Areas of Strength are calculated by comparing the county value to the state and national values for each ranked health factor measure. Measures where the county is doing meaningfully better than the state and national values are highlighted as Areas of Strength and measures where the county is doing meaningfully worse than the state and national values are highlighted as Areas to Explore. The determination of Areas to Explore and Areas of Strength considers the weight of each measure for health factors, where measures with more weight are more likely to be considered an Area of Strength or Area to Explore. Note: for the measures of Adult obesity and Adult smoking the lowest state value nationwide, is used as a comparator in place of national values. 

Compare counties with peer counties

 To find this feature, click on the Compare Counties tab from the county snapshot and select any counties across the U.S. from the drop-down menu to compare county snapshots side-by-side. 

The option to select peer counties for comparison was constructed in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Community Health Status Indicators (CHSI). Peer counties are identified using data on 19 key demographic, social, and economic indicators. See more detailed information on peer county methodology

Measure information

Click on a measure name in a county snapshot to see more information about that measure, including:

  • a summary of the measure, the data years on which it is based, basic statistics, and relation to the county rank.

  • a map showing the distribution of values among counties in a state. Counties with better values are symbolized with a lighter shade of blue or green, while worse values are symbolized with a darker shade.

  • the data table presents the measure values for each county in the state along with Z-scores and error margins (95% confidence intervals). To find the county with the best or worst value for a given measure within the state, click on the arrows in the Z-score column header to sort the counties from best to worst (or worst to best).

  • the rationale for inclusion of this measure, important methodology notes, information on whether the measure can be used to track progress and whether data for the measure is available from other sources for disaggregation (breakdown) by race/ethnicity, gender, age, income, or another geography smaller than a county.

  • the data source

Questions to explore

1) What's the big picture of health in your county?

The first steps in exploring county data might include a comparison to other counties within the same state and a review of measures which reflect strengths or opportunities relating to health in this community. County Health Rankings has created the Areas of Strength and Areas to Explore tools to highlight factors that are assets in a community, and potential challenges a community may want to examine more closely.  

  • Which quartile (Least Healthy, Lower middle range, Higher middle range, Healthiest) does your county's Health Outcome and Health Factor rank fall into?
  • Are the Health Outcome and Health Factor quartiles the same or different?
  • Are there any measures where the value is much higher or lower than expected? 

2) How does your county compare to others?

  • Comparing a county value to the state value can provide information about how well the county is doing within the context of the state. Comparing a county value to the Top US performers value (10% of the nation's counties are doing better than this value for this measure) can provide information about how well the county is doing in the context of the nation.  
  • Clicking on any ranked health outcome or health factor measure displays the variation within the state on a map or in a data table which can be easily sorted by county or measure value. 
  • The compare counties tool can be used to compare county snapshots for any number of counties across the U.S. 
  • Using error margins to determine if a difference is statistically significant can inform comparisons. 

3) How has your county changed over time?

  • The trend graphs available for many measures in the county snapshot can be opened to compare changes over time.  
  • These trend graphs are customizable to include historical data at the county, state, and national levels. 

4) Does health or opportunity vary by race in your county?

  • Where possible and meaningful, measure values are disaggregated by race and ethnicity. 
  • On the measure description page, in the digging deeper section, learn where to find data that can be further disaggregated by race, age, gender, income, or sub-county geography.