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CDC report examines disparities in health and health outcomes

Friday November 22, 2013
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Income, education level, sex, race, ethnicity, employment status and sexual orientation all are related to health and health outcomes for a number of Americans, according to a new CDC report.

“CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report — United States, 2013” looks at disparities in deaths and illness, use of healthcare, behavioral risk factors for disease, environmental hazards and social determinants of health. This year’s report contains 10 new topics including access to healthier foods, activity limitations due to chronic diseases, asthma attacks, fatal and nonfatal work-related injuries and illnesses, health-related quality of life, periodontitis in adults, residential proximity to major highways, tuberculosis and unemployment.

“Better health for all Americans depends on focusing our efforts where they’re needed most,” CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said in a news release. “This kind of information helps us target health programs and promotes accountability for improving health equity at the federal, state and local level.”

Some of the key findings of the report, which was published in a supplement to the Nov. 22 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, include:

• The overall birth rate for teens ages 15 to 19 fell by 18% from 2007 to 2010. Birth rate disparities also decreased because the rates fell by more among racial and ethnic minority populations that had higher rates. However, across states, there was wide variation, from no significant change to a 30% reduction in the rate from 2007 to 2010.

• Working in a high risk occupation — an occupation in which workers are more likely than average to be injured or become ill — is more likely among those who are Hispanic, are low-wage earners, were born outside of the United States, have no education beyond high school or are male.

• Binge drinking is more common among people ages 18 to 34, men, non-Hispanic whites and people with higher household incomes.

• Although the number of new tuberculosis cases in the U.S. decreased 58% from 1992 to 2010, tuberculosis continues to disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities, including foreign-born individuals.

The report also underscores the need for more consistent data on population characteristics that often have been lacking in health surveys, such as disability status and sexual orientation, according to the CDC. To help ensure that such data are more available in the future, the Affordable Care Act required the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a set of uniform data collection standards for national population health surveys. These standards were published in 2011.

“It is clear that more needs to be done to address the gaps and to better assist Americans disproportionately impacted by the burden of poor health,” Chesley Richards, MD, MPH, director of the CDC’s Office of Public Health Scientific Services, which produced the report, said in the news release. “We hope that this report will lead to interventions that will allow all Americans, particularly those most harmed by health inequalities, to live healthier and more productive lives.”

Full report: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/ind2013_su.html#HealthDisparities2013


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