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Women's Health: Progress amid Setbacks

Carter, David

AJN, American Journal of Nursing: August 2015 - Volume 115 - Issue 8 - p 18
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000470390.25523.08
In the News
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Evidence shows increases in diabetes and measures indicating poor mental health.

David Carter

The Institute for Women's Policy Research recently released its latest report, The Status of Women in the States: 2015. The chapter entitled “Health and Well-Being” examines national trends in the health of women and girls, breaking down the data by states. (The chapter can be read online at http://bit.ly/1FLFC86.)

The report contains some good news for women. For example, the rates of heart disease decreased among women of all ages by 36% between 2001 and 2013, and the lung cancer and breast cancer mortality rates decreased by about 11% and 20%, respectively. However, there are a number of areas where the need for reform is great. The median percentage of women 18 years old or older with diabetes increased approximately 49% in that time frame, and between 2002 and 2013 the incidence of chlamydia increased 37% among women of all ages.

Various indices indicate worsening mental health among women. The suicide mortality rate among all women increased 35% between 2001 and 2013, and between 2000 and 2013 the median number of days women 18 years and older reported that their activities were limited by either their physical or mental health status increased by around 31%.

Measures that could be taken to improve women's health include increased screening for chlamydia; encouraging women to exercise more and eat more fruit and vegetables; and ensuring that women “have adequate access to preventive care, health care services, and information about specific health conditions.” Rankings by state and the District of Columbia of all the health and well-being parameters, including economics, safety, and reproductive rights, are viewable in an interactive map at http://statusofwomendata.org.—David Carter

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