Case Management

Poll: Health problems are caused by more than just germs

Case Management Insider, April 21, 2015

American’s don’t think health is only about what happens to their bodies. They think it’s a result of outside experiences, according to a new poll by National Public Radio, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The poll asked American adults about health and the factors that can affect it. It found that Americans largely value their health. Approximately 62% said they are very or somewhat concerned about their future health. Respondents also agreed that illness and poor health is caused by more than just bacteria and viruses.
“When the public thinks about the causes of ill health, it’s not just about germs. They also see access to medical care, personal behavior, stress, and pollution as affecting health,” said Robert J. Blendon, Richard L. Menschel professor of health policy and political analysis at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.
The poll showed that Americans believe health woes are caused by a number of different factors, including:
  • Lack of access to high-quality medical care (42%)
  • Personal behavior (40%)
  • Viruses or bacteria (40%)
  • Stress (37%)
  • Exposure to pollutants (35%)
In addition, 62% said that the behavior of those around them, including family and friends, affected their health.
“Low-income people (those with household incomes less than $25,000 a year) are more likely than high-income people ($75,000 a year or more) to believe poor neighborhoods and housing conditions (40% to 27%) and bad working conditions (40% to 26%) are extremely important,” according to a press release from the Harvard School of Public Health.
More than half (54%) also said poor health could stem from childhood problems. Someone who was abused or neglected their health could suffer later on.
“This very important poll illustrates the dire socio-economic factors faced every day by too many people in this country. These factors can have as much, or more, impact on their health as disease – and they know it,” Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, president and chief executive officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said in the press release. “Here at the Foundation, we have expanded our mission to address these factors, in order to ensure that everyone in America can attain the healthiest life possible.”
Click here to read the full report.

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