A recent study ranks Clay County in the bottom-third of the state's 92 counties regarding health.
Clay County ranked 68th overall out of the state's 92 counties, according to the County Health Rankings -- a collaborative study between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Institute. Updated rankings from all counties among the 50 states were recently released.
"I expected us to be low like that," Clay County Public Health Nurse Kim Hyatt said. "I would like to see us move up closer to the halfway mark."
Several factors are taken into consideration in the rankings. According to reports, counties in each of the states are ranked according to many health measure summaries in addition to being ranked among other counties in their particular state via health outcomes and health factors.
The report stated health outcome rankings were based on length of life (mortality) and quality of life (morbidity) measures, which were split evenly.
Health factors, according to the study, were broken down into four categories, including health behaviors (30 percent), clinical care (20 percent), social and economic factors (40 percent) and physical environment (10 percent).
Each of the categories were broken down further. For example, health behaviors included tobacco use; diet and exercise, alcohol use and unsafe sex practices, while clinical care included access to care and quality of care. Social and economic factors included education, employment, income, family and social support and community safety, while physical environment included environmental quality and built environment.
Among the health outcome rankings, Clay County ranked 46th in morbidity and 75th in mortality.
Among the health factor rankings, Clay County ranked 49th in physical environment, 54th in social and economic factors, 69th in clinical care and 85th in health behaviors.
Ranking each county in both the health outcomes and health factors categories, Clay County ranked 62nd in health outcomes and 77th in health factors.
Hamilton County was the top-rated Indiana county among health outcomes and health factors.
Among neighboring counties, Putnam ranked 12th in health outcomes and 31st in health factors, Greene ranked 68th in health factors and 80th in health outcomes, Vigo was 58th in health outcomes and 75th in health factors, Owen was 39th in health outcomes and 87th in health factors, and Parke County was 69th in health factors and 73rd in health outcomes.
The study showed the top 10 healthiest counties in the state are Hamilton, Hendricks, Dubois, Boone, LaGrange, Warrick, Whitley, Marshall, DeKalb and Wells, while the unhealthiest counties were Crawford, Lake, Fayette, Perry, Sullivan, Pike, Martin, Switzerland, Starke and Scott.
According to this year's study, among health outcomes, 31 percent of Clay County adults smoke and 31 percent are obese.
However, the county moved up four spots in health outcomes from last year's study, something Hyatt said was "positive."
"People need to want to take these steps, to quit smoking or to lose weight," she said. "Anytime we can move up, that's good. It's only four spots, but we'll take it."
The 2010 study found Clay County ranked 68th in health outcomes and 81st in health factors.
Hyatt added income and insurance are key factors in how people view and deal with health issues.
"There are a lot of people that come in here and don't have insurance," she said. "There's not a lot of resources out there for them."
Hyatt said she believed more community involvement and an in crease in resources would help the county move up in the rankings. She added the Clay County Health Department is working with women's health groups based at Indiana University in addition to offering its smoking cessation program, both of which are good starts.
Results from the study may be accessed at www.countyhealthrankings.org.