Survey Finds Health Disparities in Pennsylvania
Nearly 20% of Southeastern Pennsylvania residents are in "fair or poor" health and 25% suffer from "extreme stress," according to a new survey released today. Conducted by the Philadelphia Health Management Corp., the telephone survey of 10,000 people in five counties found that people with higher incomes were more likely to rate their health as "good or excellent." More than 30% of African Americans and Latinos reported being in fair or poor health, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. "There continue to be disparities that exist among certain population subgroups in terms of poorer health status," Lynne Kotranski, PHMC's vice president for research evaluation, said. "There are barriers ... that exist between the poor and the non-poor, and the insured and the uninsured," she added. The survey, the seventh conducted since 1983, also found that 25% of respondents suffer from a chronic health condition. Coupled with the fact that 50% of residents do not regularly exercise, "the data highlight a big challenge facing public health officials: how to change individual behavior to prevent disease or injury," Philadelphia Health Commissioner Walter Tsou said. He said he was also disturbed by the findings of extreme stress, as the survey estimates "that more than [500,000] people [in the region] between ages 18 and 64 live under" this condition, the same estimate made in 1996. "When a half-million people say they have extreme stress in their lives, I think that is a pretty striking statistic. There is a lot of mental anguish that people feel," Tsou said. The survey also showed 5% of residents have experienced physical violence in the past year. There were, however, several positive indicators compared with survey data from 1991:
- 5% more Southeastern Pennsylvania residents wear seat belts;
- 5% fewer smoke;
- 33% more women over 40 are getting mammograms; and
- the number of uninsured children is 2.7%, compared to 5.6% in 1991.