State Responses to America's Health Rankings

The Search for Meaning, Utility, and Value

State health departments access information about the services they provide through many sources. America’s Health Rankings (AHR), produced annually by the United Health Foundation, offers a state-level ranking of health determinants and outcomes. With multiple sources informing state health departments about their states’ health, this study examined the utility of the AHR.

The study’s mixed methods approach included an online survey to all state health officers: there were 45 responses. Also included were interviews with key informants (KI) from nine state health department offices.

Key Findings:

  • Combining the online survey and the KI interviews, a total of 40 states indicated awareness of AHR.
  • Fifty-four percent of the 37 states providing usable survey information reported that AHR was moderately, very, or extremely useful to their agency; 46 percent indicated AHR was not at all, or minimally, useful.
  • The key informant interviews included mixed comments about the AHR, but the authors conclude that the majority of state health departments respond in more positive than negative ways to the AHR.

Respondents noted that better communication around the tool and actionable steps would help state policy-makers and constituents better understand the role AHR and similar tools can play in increasing awareness and measuring health determinants and outcomes over time.

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