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Jackson County health about average

When it comes to health, Jackson County ranks in the middle, while Josephine County is down near the bottom, according to a university report released this month.

Jackson County ranked 14th healthiest out of Oregon’s 36 counties, while Josephine County took the 33rd spot, according to the 2018 County Health Rankings report by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health’s Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“The County Health Rankings show that where we live matters to health,” researchers wrote in the report.

Gaps in health are largely due to differences in the opportunities people have in the places where they live, researchers said.

Jackson County received scores better than the state average in a number of categories:

• Residents have fewer days of poor physical and mental health.

• The county has higher ratios of primary care physicians to patients and mental health providers to patients.

• The county rates well on diabetes monitoring and mammography screening, and the number of sexually transmitted infections is lower.

• Smaller percentages of residents have long commutes to work.

Jackson County tied the state average with its 27 percent adult obesity rate, its 6 percent low birth-weight rate, its 75 percent four-year graduation rate, and on measures of income inequality and preventable hospital stays.

However, the county did worse compared to state averages on measurements of premature death, adult smoking, physical inactivity, excessive drinking, alcohol-related driving deaths, teen births, uninsured residents, availability of dentists, unemployment, childhood poverty, single-parent households, college education levels, violent crime, deaths due to injury, air pollution, housing problems and driving alone to work.

Josephine County did better than state averages on measurements of excessive drinking, sexually transmitted diseases, provider-to-patient ratios for both physicians and dentists, violent crime and long commutes.

The county is equal to state averages for low birth weight, diabetes monitoring, income inequality and air pollution.

However, Josephine County lags behind state averages in almost two dozen categories, including premature deaths, days of poor physical and mental health, adult smoking and obesity, physical inactivity, alcohol-related driving deaths, births to teens, preventable hospital stays, mammography screening, high school graduation, college education, unemployment, children in poverty, single-parent families, deaths due to injury, housing problems and driving alone to work.

Statewide, the healthiest counties are mainly clustered in the Portland and Salem metropolitan areas. Central Oregon’s Deschutes County, Hood River County and Grant County in northeast Oregon also ranked highly.

The five healthiest counties, starting with the best, are Washington, Benton, Clackamas, Hood River and Deschutes counties, the report said.

The least healthy counties are mainly spread across Southern Oregon — with the exception of Jackson County.

Jefferson County in Central Oregon and Lincoln County on the coast also are among the least healthy counties.

The five least healthy counties, starting with the worst, are Jefferson, Klamath, Lincoln, Josephine and Douglas counties, the report said.

For more information on the 2018 County Health Rankings, see www.countyhealthrankings.org.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.