From the Journals

Life and health are not even across the U.S.

View on the News

Findings should motivate clinicians and policy makers

This report on Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study data profoundly and powerfully illuminates U.S. health trends over time and by geography. There is much unfinished business for us, nationally and at the state level.

Clinicians and policy makers can use the rankings to evaluate why many individuals are still experiencing injury, disease, and deaths that are preventable; in doing so, the entire nation could move closely resemble a United States of health.

Clinicians could use the results to help guide patients through evidence-based disease prevention and early intervention, a strategy that has led to decreases in death due to cancer and cardiovascular disease over the past few decades.

At the same time, policy makers could use GBD 2016 results to reevaluate current national attitudes toward disease prevention.

Howard K. Koh, MD, MPH, is with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston. Anand K. Parekh, MD, MPH, is with the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. The comments above are derived from an editorial accompanying the report from the US Burden of Disease Collaborators ( JAMA. 2018;319[14]:1438-40 ). Dr. Koh and Dr. Parekh reported no conflicts of interest related to the editorial.



While U.S. death rates have declined overall, marked geographic disparities exist at the state level in burden of disease, injuries, and risk factors, according to a comprehensive analysis.

Life expectancy varies substantially, for example, ranging from a high of 81.3 years in Hawaii to a low of 74.7 years in Mississippi, according to results from the analysis of data from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study (JAMA. 2018;319[14]:1444-72).

Previously decreasing death rates for adults have reversed in 19 states, according to the analysis, which covers the years 1990 to 2016.

Hardest hit were Kentucky, New Mexico, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Wyoming, which had mortality increases of more than 10% among adults aged 20-55 years. Those increases were largely due to causes such as substance use disorders, self-harm, and cirrhosis, according to the US Burden of Disease Collaborators, who authored the report.

“These findings should be used to examine the causes of health variations and to plan, develop, and implement programs and policies to improve health overall and eliminate disparities in the United States,” the authors wrote.

Years lived with disability per 100,000 population, 2016

Overall, U.S. death rates have declined from 745.2 per 100,000 persons in 1990 to 578.0 per 100,000 persons in 2016, according to the report.

Likewise, health outcomes throughout the United States have improved over time for some conditions, such as ischemic heart disease, lung cancer, and neonatal preterm complications, the report says.


Next Article: