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.

Using CHR&R data tools

Each short video tutorial below guides you through how to use the different tools to access CHR&R data. 

Finding data by county
Finding data by health topic
Finding State-Level Data
Comparing Counties

County snapshot content

Quartiles

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Albany County NY Quartiles

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.  

Snapshot Data

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. 

By clicking on any measure row, you will open a drawer containing additional information about that measure. 

Drawers include: 

  • Measure definition
  • Sensemaking statement offering data in context
  • Error margin
  • Data years on which the measure is based
  • Links to key measure details and methods, related policies and programs, and maps
  • Data disaggregated by race/ethnicity (where possible and meaningful) 
  • Trend graphs (where possible) 
County, State and National Values

County snapshots include the county data, as well as state and national values for comparison. 

State values may be calculated or may represent the midpoint (median) of county values within the state. 

The national value may be calculated or may represent the midpoint (median) of county values across the United States.

Measure Definition

A brief description of the measure. It typically includes information about the units of measure, such as percentages, or whether the measure is a ratio. 

Sensemaking statement

A statement that puts the county value into context and further defines more complicated measures.

Depending on the measure, it may use less technical terms or provide a benchmark such as a standard or a national average to help interpret the county value. 

Error margin

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."

Years of data used

The year(s) on which the measure were based

Note that most data collection (via census or survey) has lag times. Our Rankings are based off of the most recent, reliable data we can access but do not represent data from the current year. For example, the Rankings incorporate data from the US Census, which is updated every 10 years.

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
  • Gray - Interpretation of trend not provided

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

Data by race/ethnicity

Where available, County Health Rankings provides data for American Indian & Alaska Native, Asian, Black, Hispanic and white population groups within a county.  

Links to additional resources

Links to find additional data, documentation and resources are included in each measure drawer. These include: 

  • Measure methods and limitations: additional information on a measure's data source, rationale for inclusion in our model of health, important methodology notes, whether the measure can be used to track progress and whether data for the measure are available from other sources for disaggregation (breakdown) by race/ethnicity, gender, age, income or smaller geography. 
  • Find strategies: filtered list of policies and programs related to this measure in our What Works for Health tool. A team of analysts reviews the evidence behind each strategy and provides a rating of that evidence, as well as considerations for equity/disparities and implementation resources where available. 
  • View map: interactive mapping experience displaying the selected measure for counties across the state. 
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 are likely to lead to a change in overall Health Factor Rank. Areas of Strength and 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 

 To find this feature, click on the Compare Counties section at the bottom of your snapshot page. There you'll have the opportunity to choose from other counties or states for a side-by-side comparison of measure values.

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

 

Questions to explore

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.  

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

  • 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 provide comparisons of 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 detail page under "Methods" you can learn where to find data that can be further disaggregated by race, age, gender, income or smaller geography.