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Hurrying to the bottom: deteriorating ranking of U.S. health status

public health news logoAs reported in the New Public Health blog (from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation), the U.S.:

…is being outpaced by most other developed countries when it comes to improvements in health outcomes, according to a new analysis by a researcher at the University Of Washington School Of Public Health. The researcher, Dr. Stephen Bezruchka, a senior lecturer in global health, says the decline comes despite increased U.S. spending on health care services.

In a published study titled “The Hurrider I Go the Behinder I Get: The Deteriorating International Ranking of U.S. Health Status,” Bezruchka looked at statistics on Infant and child mortality, maternal mortality, life expectancy at birth and at age 50, and adult mortality as mortality measures that reflect health over the course of one’s life, comparing them across developed countries. This study offers a succinct summary of its findings as follows:

  1. Around 1950, the United States had among the best health outcomes measured by mortality indicators, but 60 years later, it ranked behind the other rich countries and a number of poorer ones.
  2. The differences in mortality outcomes between the United States and the healthiest nations today represent substantial inequalities in health.
  3. Reasons for this relative decline are likely due to structural changes related to societal determinants of population health stemming from high economic inequality and lack of attention to early life issues.
  4. Public awareness of deteriorating health rankings in the United States is limited, so the next steps to improving health require major communication strategies.

Why do you think we have fallen so far behind in health outcomes compared to the rest of the developed world? What can or should we do to change it? Tell us!