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Sonoma County ranks seventh healthiest in state

March 23, 2018

Holding steady on key health measures

Sonoma County is ranked the seventh healthiest county in California, according to the 2018 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps. The rankings are an easy-to-use snapshot that compares counties within states, illustrating that where you live influences how well and how long you live. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute produce the annual rankings. 

According to the County Health Rankings, the data are a call to action to “dig into local data to better understand the local assets and challenges and implement strategies to address both place and racial gaps, creating communities where everyone has a fair and just chance to lead the healthiest life possible.” 

The Health Factors ranking measures various indicators of the social and economic environment, as well as health behaviors, clinical care and physical environment that impact health outcomes. Combined, the 2018 Health Factors ranking for Sonoma County is 11th highest in California, compared to 10th in 2017. The social and economic environment, due to its strong impact on health, is given the most weight in the Health Factors ranking. These factors include education, employment, income, family and social support and community safety. Many of these factors have an influence on long-term health outcomes, including premature death.

The Health Outcomes ranking measures length and quality of life. The Sonoma County 2018 Health Outcomes ranking is 12th in California, compared to ninth in 2017. The Sonoma County rate of premature death, which makes up 50 percent of the Health Outcomes ranking, did not change from the previous period. The Department of Health Services recently released a report, titled Sonoma County Summary Measures of Health, that closely examined these trends in premature death in the county. The leading causes of premature death in Sonoma County are cancer and unintentional injury (primarily accidental drug overdoses, falls and motor vehicle accidents) followed by heart disease, suicide and chronic liver disease. Many of these leading causes of premature death share the same risk factors, such as exposure to childhood traumatic stressors, as well as tobacco use, alcohol and other drug misuse, poor diet and physical inactivity. These risk factors for premature death are largely preventable and communities can intervene to address them.

In the 2018 County Health Rankings, most individual measures in Sonoma County did not show major changes from 2017, but other counties’ changes affect Sonoma County’s placement on the ranking scale. The rankings were developed to show progress toward better health and to be a resource for communities. 

“The numbers really highlight the incredible work community groups and organizations, our local health systems, and county partners are doing to improve health and well-being in the county,” said Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chair James Gore, who represents District 4 for the Board. “They aren’t an end all, though. We can make progress by partnering with communities to improve the social and economic landscape, such as removing barriers, so all high school students can graduate from high school, no matter their background.” 

The County of Sonoma remains committed to the health of its residents and values the information provided by the 2018 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps. 

We all have a role to play. Working together, we can make Sonoma County a healthier place for everyone to live, learn, work, and play.

To see the full 2018 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report, visit: