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Cigarette smoking prevalence in US counties: 1996-2012

March 27, 2014 Comments off

Cigarette smoking prevalence in US counties: 1996-2012
Source: Population Health Metrics

Background
Cigarette smoking is a leading risk factor for morbidity and premature mortality in the United States, yet information about smoking prevalence and trends is not routinely available below the state level, impeding local-level action.

Methods
We used data on 4.7 million adults age 18 and older from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) from 1996 to 2012. We derived cigarette smoking status from self-reported data in the BRFSS and applied validated small area estimation methods to generate estimates of current total cigarette smoking prevalence and current daily cigarette smoking prevalence for 3,127 counties and county equivalents annually from 1996 to 2012. We applied a novel method to correct for bias resulting from the exclusion of the wireless-only population in the BRFSS prior to 2011.

Results
Total cigarette smoking prevalence varies dramatically between counties, even within states, ranging from 9.9% to 41.5% for males and from 5.8% to 40.8% for females in 2012. Counties in the South, particularly in Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia, as well as those with large Native American populations, have the highest rates of total cigarette smoking, while counties in Utah and other Western states have the lowest. Overall, total cigarette smoking prevalence declined between 1996 and 2012 with a median decline across counties of 0.9% per year for males and 0.6% per year for females, and rates of decline for males and females in some counties exceeded 3% per year. Statistically significant declines were concentrated in a relatively small number of counties, however, and more counties saw statistically significant declines in male cigarette smoking prevalence (39.8% of counties) than in female cigarette smoking prevalence (16.2%). Rates of decline varied by income level: counties in the top quintile in terms of income experienced noticeably faster declines than those in the bottom quintile.

Conclusions
County-level estimates of cigarette smoking prevalence provide a unique opportunity to assess where prevalence remains high and where progress has been slow. These estimates provide the data needed to better develop and implement strategies at a local and at a state level to further reduce the burden imposed by cigarette smoking.

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Left behind: widening disparities for males and females in US county life expectancy, 1985–2010

October 7, 2013 Comments off

Left behind: widening disparities for males and females in US county life expectancy, 1985–2010
Source: Population Health Metrics

Background
The United States spends more than any other country on health care. The poor relative performance of the US compared to other high-income countries has attracted attention and raised questions about the performance of the US health system. An important dimension to poor national performance is the large disparities in life expectancy.

Methods
We applied a mixed effects Poisson statistical model and Gaussian Process Regression to estimate age-specific mortality rates for US counties from 1985 to 2010. We generated uncertainty distributions for life expectancy at each age using standard simulation methods.

Results
Female life expectancy in the United States increased from 78.0 years in 1985 to 80.9 years in 2010, while male life expectancy increased from 71.0 years in 1985 to 76.3 years in 2010. The gap between female and male life expectancy in the United States was 7.0 years in 1985, narrowing to 4.6 years in 2010. For males at the county level, the highest life expectancy steadily increased from 75.5 in 1985 to 81.7 in 2010, while the lowest life expectancy remained under 65. For females at the county level, the highest life expectancy increased from 81.1 to 85.0, and the lowest life expectancy remained around 73. For male life expectancy at the county level, there have been three phases in the evolution of inequality: a period of rising inequality from 1985 to 1993, a period of stable inequality from 1993 to 2002, and rising inequality from 2002 to 2010. For females, in contrast, inequality has steadily increased during the 25-year period. Compared to only 154 counties where male life expectancy remained stagnant or declined, 1,405 out of 3,143 counties (45%) have seen no significant change or a significant decline in female life expectancy from 1985 to 2010. In all time periods, the lowest county-level life expectancies are seen in the South, the Mississippi basin, West Virginia, Kentucky, and selected counties with large Native American populations.

Conclusions
The reduction in the number of counties where female life expectancy at birth is declining in the most recent period is welcome news. However, the widening disparities between counties and the slow rate of increase compared to other countries should be viewed as a call for action. An increased focus on factors affecting health outcomes, morbidity, and mortality such as socioeconomic factors, difficulty of access to and poor quality of health care, and behavioral, environmental, and metabolic risk factors is urgently required.

Falling behind: life expectancy in US counties from 2000 to 2007 in an international context

June 23, 2011 Comments off

Falling behind: life expectancy in US counties from 2000 to 2007 in an international context
Source: Population Health Metrics

Across US counties, life expectancy in 2007 ranged from 65.9 to 81.1 years for men and 73.5 to 86.0 years for women. When compared against a time series of life expectancy in the 10 nations with the lowest mortality, US counties range from being 15 calendar years ahead to over 50 calendar years behind for men and 16 calendar years ahead to over 50 calendar years behind for women. County life expectancy for black men ranges from 59.4 to 77.2 years, with counties ranging from seven to over 50 calendar years behind the international frontier; for black women, the range is 69.6 to 82.6 years, with counties ranging from eight to over 50 calendar years behind. Between 2000 and 2007, 80% (men) and 91% (women) of American counties fell in standing against this international life expectancy standard.

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