Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the Wisconsin County Health Rankings?
What is the difference between health outcomes and health determinants?
Are the same measures used every year?
Where can I get the all of the data from my county?
What is YPLL?
How is the information obtained for each county?
What is a 95% confidence interval (CI)?
How should I interpret a difference in rank?
How should I interpret a change in rank?

What is the purpose of the Wisconsin County Health Rankings?

The purpose of the Wisconsin County Health Rankings is to disseminate public health information to broad audiences including Wisconsin public health practitioners, policy makers, and communities. By making this data public, we hope to stimulate discussion in these audiences to promote needed change.

What is the difference between health outcomes and health determinants?

The difference between health outcomes and health determinants is that outcomes are intended to measure the current state of health; that is, the state of health at the time that the data was collected. Health determinants, on the other hand, can be viewed as predictors of future outcomes.

Are the same measures used every year?

While we try to keep the measures as consistent as possible from year to year to minimize unnecessary changes in the rankings, we still improve the measures from year to year as we find better data sources and more indicative measures of health. For a more detailed discussion of this topic, please see Why Did My County's Rank Change?

Where can I get the all of the data from my county?

To more easily allow for county health officials and other interested people to find all their individual county data in one place, this year we've compiled the County Snapshots. In the Snapshots, all the county information can be found on one page.

What is YPLL?

YPLL, or Years of potential life lost, are a measure of premature mortality. In other words, all mortality prior to 75 years of age contributes to the YPLL measure. For example, if a person dies at 45 years of age, the county now has a YPLL of 75-45, or 30 life-years. For more information, check out the issue brief that explains this topic in further detail.

How is the information obtained for each county?

The data are mainly obtained in one of two ways: First, we collect all the data available to present the actual percentages or level of the measure, so that the number reported is the actual level in the county. If this is not possible, then data is randomly sampled from the population to provide an accurate representation of the entire population in the county.

What is a 95% confidence interval (CI)?

A 95% CI is a statistical measure of uncertainty. That is, if the values were measured 100 times, 95 times out of 100 the recorded measure would fall within the bounds provided.

How should I interpret a difference in rank?

Counties that differ by a rank of only five to ten are not likely to represent much of a difference, and vary in small amounts, which may be hard to see the effects of in a population; however, counties that have ten or more ranks of difference are much more likely to represent a tangible difference in the measure.

How should I interpret a change in rank?

To be confident that the change in rank reflects an actual change in the population, there must be a significant change in rank; that is, roughly more than five. To demonstrate the changes in Wisconsin Counties, from 2004 to 2005, 56 of 72 counties had health outcomes ranks that changed less than five places. Only three counties changed more than ten ranks. Therefore, in these three counties, one can be confident that there was a significant change in health outcomes, while other factors may be involved in dealing with rank changes of less than five.
Fore more information about this topic, please see Why Did My County's Rank Change?