Report shows Hawaii’s health disparities by county, race

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has published the 2018 County Health Rankings Report: Hawaii.

The report ranks counties by both health outcomes, including length and quality of life, and health factors, which includes physical environment, social and economic factors, clinical care, and health behaviors.

Kauai County was ranked first in health outcomes and second in health factors. Honolulu County was second in health outcomes and first in health factors. Maui County and Hawaii County were ranked third and fourth in both categories respectively. Kalawao County was not included.

Health Outcomes

According to the report, health outcomes “represent measures of how long people live and how healthy people feel.” Health outcomes take into account premature death, quality of life and the percentage of low birth weight newborns.

While the differences in health outcomes do not vary greatly by county, the differences are more prominent among racial and ethnic groups.

Health Factors

Health factors have greater variance by county than health outcomes. Health behaviors, such as the percentage of adults who smoke, are obese, or drink excessively, do not vary greatly by county. The main exception is the percentage of alcohol impaired driving deaths, which is 26 percent in Honolulu County and 52 percent in Maui County.

Hawaii counties do see slightly greater variance in social and economic factors. For example, 27 percent of children live in single parent households in Honolulu County but in Hawaii County, that number rises to 37 percent. Hawaii County also has a greater percentage of children in poverty than Honolulu County, 19 percent versus 11 percent.

In order to improve health equity, the report outlines four main strategies.

  1. Invest in education from early childhood through adulthood to boost employment and career prospects.
  2. Increase or supplement income and support asset development in low income households.
  3. Ensure that everyone has adequate, affordable health care coverage and receives culturally competent services and care.
  4. Foster social connections within communities and cultivate empowered and civically engaged youth.

Additional data for Hawaii can be explored here.