Health Care

5-County Region Ranks Poor in Health Outcomes

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – In its annual study examining health factors and outcomes nationwide, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found the counties in the Mahoning and Shenango valley are among the worst in their states for health factors outcomes.

The study, which examines health behaviors, access to clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environments, ranked Columbiana, Trumbull and Mahoning counties 57th, 65th and 75th of Ohio’s 88 counties. In Pennsylvania, Mercer County was ranked 47th of 67 counties, while Lawrence County was placed 62nd.

“The County Health Rankings and Roadmaps program brings actionable data and strategies to communities to make it easier for people to be healthy in their homes, schools, workplaces and neighborhoods,” the program said in its 2016 report.

Among contributing health behaviors were the adult smoking rate, ranging from a high of 22% in Mercer County to a low of 19% in Lawrence County, with the rate in the three Ohio counties either 20% or 21%; the population with access to exercise, ranging from 85% in Mercer to 72% in Columbiana; and the obesity rate, which hovered around 33% in all five counties – Mahoning County was lowest with 31%.

Clinical care included the percent of the population that is uninsured – 15% in both Trumbull and Columbiana counties, 13% in Mahoning County and 11% in Mercer and Lawrence counties – and the primary care physician ratio, led by Mahoning County at 1,040 residents per physician.

Social and economic factors include high school graduation rates, the percentage of children in poverty – ranging from 21% in Lawrence County up to 29% in Mahoning County – violent crime rates and income inequality, measured by the ratio of households with income in the 80th percentile to households in the 20th percentile. Inequality rates were fairly standard, going from 4.1 in Mercer County to 4.8 in Mahoning County.

The physical environment factors included the percentage of residents with severe housing problems – 12% in Mercer County up to 15% in Mahoning County – and the percent of commuters driving alone, from 82% in Mercer to 88% in Columbiana.

The study also targeted areas of strength in each county. Mercer and Lawrence counties have a high physician-to-resident ratio and graduation rate, while the three Mahoning Valley counties all featured strong aspects of clinical care.

Mahoning County stood out for its low percent of uninsured residents and high ratio of physicians, dentists and mental health providers. Trumbull and Columbiana counties were recognized for mammography screening rates and diabetic monitoring rates, respectively.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.