Measuring the overall health of populations allows public health leaders to better allocate resources to areas of greatest need.
In this article, authors Remington and Booske note the inextricable ways improving the health of an individual is tied to improving the health of their community. The authors discuss how the measurement of the health of communities has changed over time to include multiple determinants of health and the social-ecological framework.
Both America’s Health Ranking and the Wisconsin County Health Rankings are efforts to apply a broad framework to both measure and monitor overall health in the United States.
While challenges to measuring population health exist, the authors note that attempting to measure the overall health of populations allows public health leaders to better allocate resources to areas of greatest need. It also empowers citizens with information to advocate for their local community's investments.
The authors argue, “If you cannot improve what you cannot measure, then it is vitally important that we continue to find better ways to measure the health of communities.” Continued research to improve information provided to communities, and ways to mobilize action toward community health, are needed.