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Denton And Collin Counties Are The Healthiest In Texas, Where Disparities Persist, Study Finds

Stephanie Kuo

Everything from a long commute and local food options to the number of physicians on call and people in poverty affects a community’s overall health.

That’s why the quality of health varies so widely across North Texas.

Denton, Collin and Rockwall counties are some of the healthiest in the region and in the state, according to an extensive report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

However, the more populous Tarrant and Dallas counties appear much farther down in the 2018 rankings.

The study looks at both health outcomes and health factors in 242 Texas counties to shed a light on health disparities in the state.

How the rankings were determined

Health outcomes here mean the length of life (50 percent) and quality of life (50 percent). Health factors include health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment.

Let’s break those down further. The weight of each category in the overall ranking is in parentheses.

  • Health behaviors (30 percent): tobacco use, diet and exercise, alcohol and drug use, sexual activity.
  • Clinical care (20 percent): access to care, quality of care
  • Social and economic factors (40 percent): education, employment, income, family and social support, community safety
  • Physical environment (10 percent): air and water quality and housing and transit.

As for health outcomes, three counties rank in the top 10 in Texas: Denton, No. 1, Collin, No. 4 and Rockwall, No. 7. The order changes when it comes to health factors: Collin, No. 1, Rockwall, No. 2 and Denton, No. 6.

For comparison, Tarrant and Dallas rank at No. 54 and No. 90, respectively, for health factors, and No. 32 and No. 54, respectively, for health outcomes.

Credit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report
Screenshot of each interactive map in the study. The left shows health outcome rankings in the state. The right shows the same for health factors.

A closer look at health factors in North Texas

More on health disparities

Advancements in medicine have helped improve the overall health of Texans over the past several decades, but they haven’t benefited everyone.

The report shows health disparities among the counties in North Texas and across the state. These gaps depend on where we live, how much money we make and how much education we have. Significant disparities in health outcomes fall largely along racial and gender lines, too.

Listen to KERA’s conversation on health disparities and what could help close the gaps, like more inclusive clinical trials and more non-white doctors, so more people could benefit from medical breakthroughs.