Study: Death, STDs Come Early in Hennepin County
Despite being a leader in healthy behaviors and clinical care, the county struggles with some healthcare factors.
Hennepin County residents die earlier and get STDs more frequently than people in most of the state’s other counties, according to data the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Wisconsin Population Health Institute released Wednesday.
The County Health Rankings study rated counties in two categories of “health outcomes” and four categories of “health factors” that influence those outcomes.
In terms of health outcomes, the county ranked 55th among the state’s 87 counties, the foundation found. Premature deaths accounted for the bulk of the bad news. Hennepin County ranked 40th in mortality. It loses about 5,241 years of life before age 75 per 100,000 people, surpassing the state average of 5,126.
But Hennepin County resident see fewer problems while they are alive. The county was ranked all the way down at 74 in the frequency of morbidity, or unhealthiness. Hennepin outperformed the state in all but one measure of that category.
It performed strong overall in the four categories of health factors, ranking 25th among the 87 counties.
The county particularly stood out for its healthy behavior, a category in which it was ranked for. Hennepin County residents smoke less, exercise more, experience fewer vehicle crashes and are less prone to being overweight than residents in other parts of the state. In all, the foundation ranked Hennepin County fourth in “health behaviors.”
(Nonetheless, the foundation said the smoking and obesity were problematic—and the county also had a Chlamydia infection rate more than 1.6 times the state average and nearly five times the national average.)
Its ninth-place ranking in clinical care was nearly as good. Hennepin County has greater numbers of doctors and dentists and fewer preventable hospital stays than the state and national average.
Yet it struggled in other areas. In the social and economic factors category, it ranked 73rd. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation singled out the county’s high school graduation rate (66 percent), rate of children in single-parent households (31 percent) and violent crime rate (490 crimes per 100,000 people) as particularly worrisome. The county performed worse than the state and national average in each of those categories—along with the percentage of children in poverty (18 percent) and the proportion of adults with inadequate social or emotional support (15 percent).
The foundation didn’t single out any areas for concern in the county’s physical environment, but Hennepin ranked just 54th. Still, results there were more mixed. It had worse levels of fine particulate matter and more fast-food restaurants but greater access to recreational facilities and healthy foods than the state average.
This is the fourth year the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Wisconsin Population Health Institute have released rankings.
“The County Health Rankings can be put to use right away by leaders in government, business, health care, and every citizen motivated to work together to create a culture of health in their community,” a news release quoted Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation president and CEO. “The Rankings are driving innovation, unleashing creativity, and inspiring big changes to improve health in communities large and small throughout the country.”
Use the search boxes above to look at Minnesota counties’ rankings. Click here to look at the data in even greater detail.