Healthcare Stats For RNs are Just A Click Away

June 22nd, 2012

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By , BSN, RN

Whether I’m blogging about nursing and healthcare or you are writing a paper for nursing school, it seems like we always need some kind of health related statistics. One of the best sites for collecting that information is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

This is the country’s principal health statistics agency. They collect statistical information that helps guide actions and policies for improving the health of the people of the United States. They are a unique public resource for health information and a critical element of public health and health policy.

Working with partners throughout the health community, the NCHS uses a variety of approaches to efficiently obtain information from the sources most able to provide information. They collect data from birth and death records, medical records, interview surveys, and through direct physical exams and laboratory testing. NCHS is a key element of our national public health infrastructure, providing important surveillance information that helps identify and address critical health problems.

Just this week the Center for Health Statistics released the early findings of their 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Highlights of the report include:

  • The percentage of adults who drink five or more alcoholic drinks a day has dropped after increasing between 2004 and 2010, to just over 22 percent in 2011.
  • Self-reported obesity in Americans over age 20 has climbed from 19.4 percent in 1997 to 28.7 percent in 2011.
  • One in five adults aged 65 and older has diabetes versus one in 10 among those aged 45 to 54.
  • Only 2.4 percent of Americans rate their personal health as poor.
  • Among black children under 15 years of age, 16.6 percent have asthma; that figure is 10 percent for Hispanic children and 7.5 percent for white kids.
  • Fifty percent of adults aged 25 to 44 say they have been tested for HIV.
  • In 2011, 48.4 percent of adults aged 18 and older said they did aerobic exercise—the highest percentage ever reported.
  • For 6.5 percent of Americans, cost kept them from seeking needed medical care.
  • Among those aged 65 and older, 7.3 percent needed assistance with personal care in 2011, compared with 6.4 percent in 2000.
  • More adults (3.4 percent) had serious psychological distress during 2011 than in 1999 (2.4 percent).
  • The number of U.S. adults who smoke dropped from 24.7 percent in 1997 to 18.9 percent in 2011.
  • Most Americans (87 percent) had a usual place to go for medical care in 2011, a little more than the 2010 estimate of 85.4 percent.
  • In 2011, almost 67 percent of those aged 65 and older had received a vaccine against pneumonia, a significant increase from 43 percent in 1997.

Through collecting statistics like these and thousands of others the NCHS is able to provide a broad perspective to help in the understanding of the nation’s health, influences on its health, and health outcomes. They can also:

  • Document the health status of the population and of important population subgroups.
  • Identify disparities in health status and the use of health care by race or ethnicity, socioeconomic status, region, and other population characteristics.
  • Describe experiences with the health care system.
  • Monitor trends in health status and health care delivery.
  • Identify health problems.
  • Support biomedical and health services research.
  • Provide information for changing public policies and programs.
  • Evaluate the impact of health policies and programs.

In this election year we are likely to hear statistics bandied about by our candidates, all seeking that one area that is particularly important to you, the voter. This is where a lot of those numbers come from—and this is where you can check is those numbers they are quoting are correct.

The NCHS and its annual surveys keep the American healthcare industries, from education to hospitals, to pharmaceutical manufacturers, abreast of what is happening, what is important and where to focus the next set of goals.

Keep this site in mind nursing students as you set out to write that next paper. The same goes for the working nurse who is trying to convince his or her coworkers, unit, or hospital to start or change healthcare policy. The CDC and the NCHS are great resources for endless amounts of information. This government organization even has a great Facebook page with entries on the latest information collected and places for people seeking information to ask questions. 

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