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Chronic conditions more likely among adults with less income

Jul 31, 2017

Download the report here and the data tables here.

Chronic illness can be a burden for an individual and a household. This toll may be physical, emotional and financial, affecting many aspects of a person’s life. The 2017 Community Health Status Survey (CHSS) asked adults in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky if they had ever been told by a healthcare provider that they had one of several chronic conditions.

High blood pressure, chronic lung disease, severe allergies, depression decline

Since 2013, the region saw a decline in the percentages of adults who had been told by a healthcare provider that they had high blood pressure, severe allergies, chronic lung disease and depression:

  • High blood pressure declined from 34% to 30%
  • Severe allergies declined from 17% to 14%
  • Chronic lung disease declined from 8% to 6%
  • Depression declined from 23% to 21%

The percentage of adults who had been told they had asthma, cancer, diabetes, heart trouble, high cholesterol or stroke remained steady compared with 2013.
Because CHSS asked specifically whether the respondent had been diagnosed with the condition, it is unclear whether these results reflect a change in the number of adults who have the condition or the number of adults diagnosed by a health care provider.

Low-income adults more likely to be told they have chronic condition

For all but one of these conditions, adults earning less than 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG)1 were more likely to have been told they had that condition. As income rose the percentage of adults diagnosed with the condition dropped.

The exception was cancer. Slightly fewer than 1 in 10 adults of all income groups had been told they had cancer.

High blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, severe allergies more likely among African Americans

African American adults were more likely than White adults to have been told they had diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma or severe allergies. The percentage of African Americans who had been told they had high blood pressure declined between 2013 (46%) and 2017 (39%). However, African American adults in 2017 were more likely than in 2013 to have been told they had asthma or severe allergies. In 2017, 22% of African American adults reported ever being told they had asthma, compared with 18% in 2013. Similarly, in 2017 22% had been told they had severe allergies, compared with 18% in 2013.

In 2017, African American adults were less likely than White adults to be told they had cancer or heart trouble. Both conditions remained steady among African American adults between 2013 and 2017.

Rates of most chronic conditions increase as age increases

For seven of these conditions, rates increased, sometimes dramatically, as age increased. This was true for cancer, chronic lung disease, diabetes, heart trouble or angina, high cholesterol or triglycerides, hypertension and stroke. This will have important consequences for our healthcare system as the proportion of our population older than 65 continues to increase.


1 In 2015, 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines was $24,250 for a family of four; 200% FPG was $48,500.

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