Health profiles and racial disparities among individuals on probation in Hennepin County, Minnesota, 2016: A cross-sectional study

Marin Olson, Rebecca J. Shlafer, Peter Bodurtha, Jonathan Watkins, Courtney Hougham, Tyler N.A. Winkelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives To estimate the health characteristics and racial/ethnic health disparities among a probation cohort in Hennepin County. We hypothesised the probation population would have higher health needs compared with the general population as well as significant racial/ethnic health disparities. Design Cross-sectional study using linked administrative records. Participants Of 7992 eligible individuals, 5873 met inclusion criteria of 6 or more months of eligibility for a full-benefit Minnesota healthcare plan. Setting Probation system in Hennepin County in 2016. Outcomes We compared health condition prevalence among our probation cohort with survey data from the general population and analysed by race/ethnicity. We also measured sociodemographic characteristics, including the use of safety-net services. Results Individuals were predominantly male (80.5%), young (mean age: 35.5 years), and disproportionately black or African American (52.9%). A majority of individuals enrolled in Medicaid were eligible via Medicaid expansion (65.9%). Compared with the general population, individuals on probation had higher rates of substance use disorders (66.5% vs 8.1%), mental illness (55.3% vs 14.4%) and many physical conditions (eg, asthma: 17.0% vs 12.5%, chronic kidney disease: 5.8% vs 0.2%). White individuals on probation were significantly more likely than black or African American individuals to have a diagnosed substance use disorder (71.6% vs 62.0%) or mental health disorder (64.9% vs 48.5%), but fewer chronic physical health conditions (average: 0.52 vs 0.73 chronic physical conditions). Conclusions Individuals on probation have high health needs, which vary substantially by race/ethnicity. Without attention to this variation, interventions to address health conditions in this population could worsen racial/ethnic disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number047930
JournalBMJ open
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding This project was supported with funding from the University of Minnesota’s Grand Challenges Research Initiative.

Publisher Copyright:
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.


  • epidemiology
  • health policy
  • public health

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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