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Health and Wellness

Trends in Rural Health

Data about health and mortality illustrate the extent and distribution of physical wellbeing in the population. These data inform our expectations for population growth, decline, and change as well as demands for health related services or infrastructure.

Trends in Rural Health

Excerpted from: Glasgow, Nina, Nan E. Johnson, and Lois Wright Morton. 2004. Introduction. In Nina Glasgow, Lois Wright Morton, and Nan E. Johnson (eds.), Critical Issues in Rural Health, (3-11). Ames, IA: Blackwell Publishing.

"Residence in a nonmetro county in the united States has historically been associated with poorer health outcomes for people of all ages. In the early 1980s, residents of nonmetro counties had higher death rates from infant mortality, motor vehicular crashes, and work-related injuries than did residents of metropolitan (metro) counties (Carlson, Lassey, and Lassey 1981).

Memorial markers

Memorial markers for John McLoughlin
and his wife in Oregon City, Clackamas
County: Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives

"Almost 20 years later, southern and western nonmetro counties continue to report high rates of infant mortality (Eberhardt et al. 2001). Death rates for 1996 to 1998 for children and young adults (1 to 24 years of age) were highest in the most rural counties and in all regions except the Northeast; death rates were over 50 percent higher than the lowest rates reported in fringe counties of large metro areas (Eberhardt et al. 2001)...

"Several reasons exist for the poorer health outcomes for nonmetro residents. The lower population size in nonmetro counties limits effective market demand for structurally safe housing, fresh food, health care, and jobs offering group health insurance benefits... Nonmetro residents travel farther than their metro counterparts to reach sources of medical care and face the extra challenge of arranging these trips in the face of largely absent public transportation systems (Burkhardt 2000; Glasgow 2000)...

"On the other hand, rural people demonstrate resiliency. Despite economic disadvantages as well as limited availability and access to health care, recent studies show that health indicators for the rural population are not uniformly lower than those for the urban population (Golant 2003; McLaughlin, Stokes, and Nonoyama 2001; Ricketts 1999)."

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How healthy is your community? Are there any risk factors like pre-natal care or substance abuse that are more prevalent in your community than the state? Why do you think they are more or less prevalent?

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Health and Mortality-Related Terms

Using the tools of the Oregon Communities Reporter you can examine trends in health and mortality across the state among the following variables:

  • Mortality by Age Group: The number of people in each age category who died during the interval year per 1000 people.
    Formula: ([# of deaths in age group]/[total population of age group])*1000
    Source: Oregon Department of Human Services, Center for Health Statistics

  • Disease Incidence: The number of communicable disease (AIDS, Botulism, Chlamydia, E.Coli, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis, HIV, Pertussis, Salmonella, Tuberculosis, and Other) diagnoses per 1,000 people. 1990 data for Hepatitis is all Hepatitis cases.
    Formula: ([# new cases]/[county population])*1000
    Source: Oregon Department of Human Services, Public Health Division, Acute and Communicable Disease Prevention Program

  • Prevalence of Obesity: The percentage of adults who are obese (with a Body Mass Index greater than 30 kg/m2).
    Formula: ([# obese adults]/[total population over 18])*100
    Source: Oregon Department of Human Services, Center for Health Statistics

  • Health Insurance Coverage: The percentage of adults with health insurance (public or private).
    Formula: ([# adults with health insurance]/[total population over 18])*100
    Source: Oregon Department of Human Services, Center for Health Statistics

  • Babies whose Mothers Received Pre-Natal Care: The percentage of babies whose mothers received pre-natal care beginning in their first trimester.
    Formula: ([# of births to mothers receiving prenatal care in 1st trimester]/[total births])*100
    Source: Oregon Department of Human Services, Center for Health Statistics

  • Immunization: The percentage of 2-year-olds who are adequately immunized.
    Formula: ([# of children age 19-35 months who received 4 doses Diphtheria/Tetances/Acellular Pertussis, 3 Polio, 1 Measles/Mumps/Rubella, 3 Haemophilus and 1 Influenza type b immunizations]/[total # of children age 19-35 months])*100
    Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as reported by the Oregon Progress Board Benchmark Reports

  • Pre-natal Alcohol/Tobacco use: The percentage of live births to mothers who self-reported use of alcohol or tobacco while pregnant.
    Formula: ([# born to mothers using alcohol while pregnant]/[total # of births])*100
    Source: Oregon Department of Human Services, Center for Health Statistics

  • Years of Life Lost: Years of potential life lost (YPLL) quantifies premature mortality occurring in younger age groups by measuring and standardizing the number of years between age at death and age 70. 1993 data used for 1990.
    Source: Oregon Department of Human Services, Center for Health Statistics as reported by the Oregon Progress Board Benchmark Reports

  • 8th Grade Drug, Alcohol, and Tobacco Use: Percent of 8th graders who report using alcohol, illegal drugs, or tobacco in the past 30 days. Due to privacy concerns, results from several counties may be combined.
    Formula: ([# teens, report using alcohol in survey]/[# of teens, taking survey])*100
    Source: Oregon Public Schools Drug Use Survey, Office of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs and Oregon Healthy Teens Survey, Oregon Department of Human Services, as reported by the Oregon Progress Board Benchmark Reports

  • Suicide Rate: Suicides, per 1,000 population.
    Formula: ([# of suicides]/[total population in county])*1000
    Source: Oregon Department of Human Services, Center for Health Statistics

  • Seniors Living Independently: This measure estimates the percentage of Oregonians ages 75 and older that are living independently outside of nursing facilities on any given day. 1992 data used for 1990.
    Formula: ([# seniors living independently]/[total population 75 and over])*100
    Source: Oregon Department of Human Services, Senior and Disabled Services Division, as reported by the Oregon Progress Board Benchmark Reports

Sources

Glasgow, Nina, Nan E. Johnson, and Lois Wright Morton. 2004. Introduction. In Nina Glasgow, Lois Wright Morton, and Nan E. Johnson (eds.), Critical Issues in Rural Health, (3-11). Ames, IA: Blackwell Publishing.

Authored and compiled by Lena Etuk, Social Demographer, Oregon State University Extension Service (2008)