Ocean County, NJ:
Community Health Improvement Plan

Introduction

Where we live, work and play matters to our health. The health of a community depends on many different factors, including the environment, education and jobs, access to and quality of healthcare, and individual behaviors.

The Ocean County 2019-2023 Community Health Improvement Plan used the Healthy NJ and Healthy People 2030 objectives and targets in our community health needs assessment and in our strategy building. Achieving health requires more than just controlling disease. It requires us to assure conditions in which people can be healthy. Health results from the choices that people are able to make in response to the options that they have. Conditions in the social and physical environments determine the range of options that are available, their attractiveness, and their relative ease or difficulty of use

The purpose of the Ocean County Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) is to provide strategies that can be used in improving the health of Ocean County residents. A community health improvement plan is critical for developing policies and defining evidence-based actions to target efforts and outcomes in the best possible way towards achieving our health goals. It should define the vision of health in the community through a collaborative process, and should address the gamut of strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and opportunities that exist in the community to improve the health status of the community. The Community Health Improvement Plan needs to focus on all factors in the community that contribute to the health of its residents. 

Social Determinants of Health 

Social determinants of health (SDOH) are the myraid of conditions that affect health risks and outcomes. According to the CDC, poverty limits individuals ability to eat healthy food and they often live in more unsafe neighborhoods. This is an example of SDOH being a predictor of better health. On a community level, communities with poor SDOH such as high poverty rates, low educational attainment, and unstable housing have striking health disparities compared to communities with better SDOH [Source].

Healthy People 2020 uses a “place-based” organizing framework which reflects five key areas of SDOH: Economic Stability, Education, Social and Community Context, Health and Health Care, and Neighborhood and Built Environment. To learn more about Healthy People 2020 and their framework, visit their website.

Applying knowledge and research on social determinants can improve the well-being for Ocean County residents. Below, you can explore data on cost-burdened housing and food insecurity in Ocean County.

"Conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes"

Cost-burdened housing units are residences in Ocean County whose occupants spend 30% of more of their household income on housing costs—rent, utilities, homeowner costs, taxes, and other costs related to housing. Ocean County residents who spend 30% or more of their income on housing may lack financial security. They may have difficulty saving enough funds to cope with unplanned expenses. 

Food insecurity measures the percent of households lacking consistent access to adequate healthy food. Households with extreme food insecurity may face hunger. The map below, based on data from Feeding America: Map the Meal Gap, compares rates of food insecurity across counties.

Demographics of Ocean County

According to the 2017 US Census estimate, Ocean County's population was 597,943, a 3.7% increase from 2010, making Ocean County the state's sixth-most densely populated county.

Almost all diseases or health outcomes occur at different rates in different age groups. Many chronic diseases, including most cancers, occur more often among older populations. Other outcomes, such as many types of injuries, may occur more often among younger people. Therefore, the age distribution of a given population often determines what the most common health problems in a community will be. Age-adjusted rates are essential for evaluating public health events that vary with age (for example, cancer deaths), or when comparing populations with different age distributions such as in Ocean County with a diverse age distribution.

The median age in Ocean County’s population is 42.9 years (2013-2017), compared to a median age of 39.6 years and 37.8 years for New Jersey and the United States respectively.

This map shows Ocean County having one of the most diverse patterns of age in the United States; Lakewood Township has among the youngest population nationally with an average age of 13.7 years and Manchester Township among the oldest with an average age of 74.1 years. As evidenced by the same data from 2006-2010; the youngest townships are getting younger and the oldest, older.

The 2017 US Census shows that the racial distribution in Ocean County consists of 91.3% Whites and 3% African Americans. The US Census data also shows that overall, women continue to outnumber men (Female= 51.8%, Male= 48.2 %). 


Leading Causes of Death in Ocean County

This graph shows the ten leading causes of death in Ocean County from 2014 to 2016. The rates have been adjusted to the age distribution of the estimated US population of the year 2000, commonly referred to as the standard population.

Heart diseases and cancer have claimed the first and second spots as the leading causes of death in Ocean County with 201 deaths per 100,000 and 163 deaths per 100,000 individuals in 2014-2016 respectively. The data displays that the age adjusted death rates of heart disease and cancer is greater as compared to New Jersey and United States. The graph also reveals that heart disease and cancer deaths are far greater cause of death than compared to other leading causes of death in Ocean County; likely attributed to the higher composition of older individuals in Ocean County.

*Note: Causes marked with an asterisk use data from 2014-2016 for Ocean County, rather than the single-year period. 

References

Data Interpretation for Public Health Officials (PDF)

Analyze and Interpret Surveillance Data (PDF) 

Median Age in Ocean County

Population Demographics in Ocean County

Cover photo credit: Michael Napolean

About the Data

• Cost-burdened housing data was calculated by LiveStories from ACS table B25106. The calculation sums all housing units where housing costs comprise 30% or more of the occupants' household income, and also sums households with zero or negative income. This sum is then divided by the total number of occupied housing units and multiplied by 100. For owner-occupied housing units, the costs are monthly owner costs; for renter-occupied units, the costs are gross rent.

• Food insecurity data are estimates published by Feeding America. Citation: Gundersen, C., A. Dewey, M. Kato, A. Crumbaugh & M. Strayer. The 2017 data is from: "Map the Meal Gap 2019: A Report on County and Congressional District Food Insecurity and County Food Cost in the United States in 2017." Feeding America, 2019. Details about their methodology can be found here.

This report uses the Census Bureau Data API but is not endorsed or certified by the Census Bureau.