An Annual County-Level Snapshot of What Makes People Healthy or Sick - and Tools to Promote Action to Improve Health

County Health Rankings & Roadmaps

County Health Rankings & Roadmaps compares the health of nearly all of the 3,000+ counties in the United States to others within its own state, and supports coalitions tackling the myriad social, economic, and environmental influences on health.

Dates of Program: January 2009 through mid-2014

Description: County Health Rankings measure a broad set of health outcomes, including physical and mental health and premature mortality. They also examine some 25 influences on health, including the physical environment, social and economic factors, health behaviors, and access to clinical care.

Roadmaps to Health includes Web-based resources and coaching; Community Grants to coalitions implementing policy and systems changes; the RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize to honor local accomplishments; and national partnerships with groups that have strong ties to local affiliates.

Key Results: Researchers at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute have published County Health Rankings for all 50 states each year since 2010. A snapshot of each county’s health is available free on the web to anyone ( Some 250,000 people typically visit the website the month after the institute releases the rankings.

The program sends “a clear message about the determinants of health, showing that where we live, learn, work, and play... are really the drivers of health.”—David R. Williams, PhD, Roadmaps National Advisory Committee Member

“The rankings are jarring... especially in communities where you have some of the best health care facilities but not the best health rankings and health outcomes. That gets you digging into what is really influencing and driving our health.”—Abbey Cofsky, MPH, Senior Program Officer, RWJF

The Roadmaps to Health Action Center provides free resources to help communities become healthier, as well as three full-time coaches to support local efforts around the country. Read about the action center in the sidebar at the end of the report.

Thirty state and local coalitions of policymakers, businesses, and educational, community, health, and other nonprofits have won two-year $200,000 Community Grants to address social and economic influences on health. Partners are strengthening prekindergarten programs, improving access to fair financial services, building support for paid sick leave, and much more.

Six RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize winners, representing large cities and small towns have been honored for their work with $25,000 no-strings-attached awards. The 2013 winners hail from Cambridge, Mass.; Fall River, Mass.; Manistique, Mich.; Minneapolis; New Orleans; and Santa Cruz County, Calif. Read about their projects in the sidebar at the end of the report.  

Partner grants to United Way Worldwide, the National Business Coalition on Health, and the National Association of Counties enable them to share information and ideas from Rankings & Roadmaps with local affiliates and members. Read about some of these projects in the sidebar at the end of the report.