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Running head: HEALTH STATUS IN ILLINOIS Health Status in Illinois
Olivet Nazarene University
Dr. Debra Langham
May 11, 2016 1 HEALTH STATUS IN ILLINOIS 2 Introduction
Health influences our everyday lives. Poor health puts burden a burden on people that
have limited opportunities and indirectly affects our states, country, and the world as a whole.
Giving everyone a fair share to live and offering them specific resources to improve health are
necessary and beneficial to our country and global economy. While it is the United States has
achieved significant health improvements in the past decade and benefited from a huge progress
in automobile safety, better workplace standards, good schools, medical clinics, and reduction in
smoking or infectious diseases, there are significant health differences and health outcomes
through various communities in the US (US County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, 2016).
Health rankings was implemented for the public to know what is causing illnesses in their
respective communities and regions. Ranking Roadmaps also makes the case of implementation
of actions to improve health and empowers communities to lessen if not close health gaps and
improve disparities leading to better environment and quality of life. This paper explores
important health information in Illinois compared to surrounding states and Cook County in
Illinois as compared to surrounding counties. Additionally, this paper also describes major
health issues affecting adults, children, and the risk of infectious disease in Cook County,
Description of how the Health in Illinois
To compare the health status in Ilinois to surrounding states, the County Health &
Ranking Roadmaps Programs (2016) explore various meaningful gaps or health disparities such
as policies and programs, health factors and health outcomes which have greater influence on
health and clinical care in each state, and how wide these gaps are compared to surrounding HEALTH STATUS IN ILLINOIS 3 states. The statistics are then tabulated into numeric values or percentages and analyzed.
Indications are the lesser the percentage of the meaningful gaps, the better the the quality of life
and longer life span. Consequently higher percentages indicate risk for shorter life span as it
relates to poor accessibility to clinical care and preventative programs meaning people in Illinois
are more likely to die prematurely as compared to other states. On a positive note, higher
percentages also highlight where improvements need to be made, changes need to be
implemented, and points to the fact that not all Americans have the means and opportunity to live
a healthy lifestyle despite significant improvements in health care, health status, and health
technology over the century.
Surrounding neighbors to Illinois include Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin, and
Iowa. According to US Health Rankings and Roadmaps (2016), the state of Illinois ranked in the
middle of it's neighbors falling at number 28, third to Wisconsin and Iowa (36, 22 & 24)
respectively with Missouri, Indiana, and Kentucky having the highest number (41 &44). For
example, looking at the statistical challenges between Illinois and Iowa, both states have high
prevalence of excessive drinking. It is important to note the differences. For example, while
Illinois has a higher rate of preventable hospitalizations, preventable hospitalization cases in
Iowa decreased 25% from 68.1 to 50.9 per 1,000 medicare Beneficiaries (America's Health
Health in Cook County Compares Surrounding Counties.
County Health Ranking & Roadmaps Programs (2016) explore various meaningful gaps
to provide a national level state map that quickly call attention not only to communities where
residents are living long and well, but also to those that are lacking opportunities for residents to HEALTH STATUS IN ILLINOIS 4 be healthy. They measure what health gaps are and why they matter, the size and nature of the
health gaps, what factors influence the health gaps of residents, and what state and local
government can do to address those health gaps. To compare the health status in Cook County,
Illinois, and see how well the residents are doing, this author gathered statistical data from two
surrounding counties (Brown & Decalb) in Illinois. The author then compared meaningful gaps
such as the length and quality of life, access to affordable housing, social and economic factors,
sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and premature deaths, which are essential to living a
healthier lifestyle thereby prolonging life using the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps of
Cook County Brown County Decalb County Length of Life 40 14 10 Quality of Life 88 30 43 Affordable Housing 24% 8% 22% Social & Economic 87 11 20 STDs 661.2 332.7 476.6 Premature Deaths 6,000 5,400 5,300 10th/90th percentile. Only 10% are better. Adapted from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps
Looking at these statistical values it is quite obvious that residents in Cook County,
Illinois are lacking opportunities that are very essential to the quality of life and life span. These
data also point out where work needs to be done, improvements need to be made and actions are
needed to be taken.
Description of the Major Health Issues for Adults
Adult Smoking HEALTH STATUS IN ILLINOIS
The major health issues affecting adults in Cook County, Illinois are adult smoking and
obesity. Adult smoking in Cook County ranks at 16% compared to the overall Illinois score
which is at 17% and higher then the the top US performers which is at 14% respectively.
Cigarettes contain harmful substances or toxins such as tar, nicotine, carbon monoxide, etc. that
are very harmful to our body organs. Damages to these vital body organs can tragically lead to
incurable diseases such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory conditions, low
birthweights, and other adverse health outcomes and subsequently mortality. Tobacco use is the
leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, resulting in more than
480,000 premature deaths and $289 billion in direct health care expenditures and productivity
losses each year ( Jamal, Agaku, O?Connor, King, Kenemer, & Neff, 2014). Therefore, since
tobacco use and the major health concerns it poses are a public health initiative, measuring the
prevalence of its use in the population alerts communities to potential adverse health outcomes
which can be valuable for assessing the need for cessation programs or the effectiveness of
Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) that exceeds 30kg/m^2 and generally
develops when caloric intake exceeds caloric expenditure in genetically susceptible individuals
(McCance & Huether, 2015, p1446). Adult obesity in Cook County, Illinois compared to the
overall Illinois score which is at 25% is lower than the overall Illinois score of 27%, and same
as the top US performers which is at 25% respectively. Obesity has been linked as a major risk
factor for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, sleep apnea among others. Reducing the
prevalence of obesity is a public health priority because obesity is correlated with excess
morbidity and mortality (National Center for Health Statistics, 2014). The above data as they 5 HEALTH STATUS IN ILLINOIS 6 relate to obesity in my opinion is promising and indicates Cook County is better off in adult
obesity since it is in the 10th percentile as the top US performers. However, on the opposite note,
the state of Illinois needs to do a better job in reducing adult obesity since the overall score is
above the 10th percentile mark.
Description of the Major Health Issues for Children
The disease of poverty is a major health issue affecting children living in Cook County.
The US Census Bureau defines poverty as a total family income lesser than the family threshold.
Iceland, 2016 suggests that the hardships that often accompany poverty painfully has an adverse
effects on individual's physical and psychological well-being and poor individuals are likely to
have health problems and die at a younger age (p.3). Cook County ranks at 25% compared to the
overall Illinois score of 20% and the score of best performers in the United States ranks at 13%.
Consequences of poverty include mortality, prevalence of medical condition and higher
incidences for diseases, violence, depression, poor health behaviors, and poor educational
achievements which are very evident in Cook County, Illinois.
Description of the Major Infectious Diseases in Cook County
Infectious diseases are caused by bacteria, virus, fungi, and parasites. In Cook County, Illinois,
one of the major concerns of infectious disease is chlamydia. Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted
disease caused by bacteria and it is transmitted by unsafe sexual activity. McCance & Huether
(2015) observed that chlamydia is the most common reportable sexually transmitted infection
(STI) in the US, affects about 3 million individuals annually, and is a leading cause of
preventable infertility and etopic pregnancy (p. 929). In Cook County, Illinois, the risk for
chlamydia is 661.2 per 100,000 annually as compared to the overall score of Illinois which is HEALTH STATUS IN ILLINOIS 7 495.5, and top US performers which is 134.1. STIs pose a risk for morbidity and mortality,
premature deaths, and a high economic burden on society. On a positive note, while the
numerical value of Cook County may appear very staggering, it is important to note that
according to the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps (2016), these values may also reflect
expanded screening, use of increasingly sensitive diagnostic tests, increased emphasis on case
reporting from providers and laboratories, and improvement in the information systems for
reporting; communities with poor screening rates may have artificially low rates of chlamydia
Poor health burdens people that have limited opportunity which in turn affect our states and
country indirectly. The state of Illinois has major health problems such as adult smoking, obesity,
children living in poverty, and risk for infectious disease compared to surrounding states.
Implementing measures to address these problems will drastically improve health, empowers
communities to close the health gaps, and improve disparities. In addition, it will also lead to a
better and healthier environment, quality of life, and longer lifespan. Health rankings are among
of the best tools used to make it easier for the public to know what is causing illnesses in their
respective regions. Additionally, health rankings could also be utilized as important tools for
surveillance to alert government and health officials, population and communities of potential
adverse health outcomes which can be valuable for assessing the need for cessation programs or
the effectiveness of existing programs. HEALTH STATUS IN ILLINOIS 8 References
America's Health Rankings (2016). Retrieved from http://www.americashealthrankings.org/.
Iceland, J. (2013). Poverty in America: A handbook. Univ of California Press.
Jamal, A., Agaku, I. T., O?Connor, E., King, B. A., Kenemer, J. B., & Neff, L. (2014). Current
cigarette smoking among adults?United States, 2005?2013. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly
Rep, 63(47), 1108-1112.
McCance, K. L., & Huether, S. E. (2015). Pathophysiology: The biological basis for disease in
adults and children (7th ed.). St. Louis: Elsevier.
National Center for Health Statistics (US. (2014). Health Risk Factors.
The United States Census Breau. (2015). Retrieved from
US County Health Rankings and Roadmaps (2016). Retrieved from
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