community health assessment, community health improvement, Healthy People 2010, Maryland, methodology, mortality, public health improvement, public health performance, United States



  1. Kanarek, Norma
  2. Bialek, Ron


Healthy People 2010 national objectives seek to engage public health systems in health improvement. Focusing on "healthy communities," the article describes the readiness of U.S. counties to meet targets and the technical assistance that may be needed. Using rate comparisons and trends, four readiness-to-improve health categories are calculated for nine mortality rates. Greatest readiness for improvement was found for coronary heart disease mortality, where the fewest jurisdictions (35%) were static, having neither met targets nor improved; least readiness (65%) was observed for colon and rectum cancer and suicide. Nevertheless, some counties (50-1,050) were exemplary, already meeting the target and still improving.