Boomers: Not the Greatest, but Maybe the Healthiest Generation?

They have witnessed extraordinary advances in medicine in their lifetimes, yet data are mixed as to whether the "baby boomers" are healthier than prior generations. Investigators analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which has been gathering data since 1971. They compared individuals 46 to 64 years of age during 1988-1994 (for the previous generation) and NHANES 2007 to 2010 (for baby boomers). Here is what they found:

  • A longer life is not necessarily a healthier one: compared to their parents' generation, boomers have higher rates of chronic disease, more disability, and are much less likely to report excellent health.
  • Boomers also have higher rates of obesity, hypertension, diabetes and hypercholesterolemia.
  • Bright spots: they are less likely to smoke cigarettes and have lower rates of myocardial infarction than the previous generation.
  • Dana E. King, MD, West Virginia University School of Medicine, and colleagues say there is a need to expand efforts at prevention and healthy lifestyle promotion targeting the baby boomer generation.

JAMA Intern Med. Published Online: February 4, 2013 

How's Your e-Side Manner?

Fully 85 percent of U.S. consumers feel high-tech communication channels are as helpful, if not more so, than in-person or phone conversations with their health care provider.

  • Of the 66  percent who have received a voicemail, text or email from their health care provider.
    • 51 percent felt more valued as a patient.
    • 35 percent said digital communication improved their opinion of their provider.
    • 34 percent felt more certain about visiting that health care provider again.
  • Topics most requested: educational tips or information to help live a healthy life (68 percent), feedback from initial face-to-face visit (59 percent), and payment reminders (56 percent).
  • 34 percent of those surveyed said they are more honest about their medical needs through automatic calls, email, or text messaging, than they are in a face-to-face conversation with a doctor.

Technology Beyond the Exam Room: How Digital Media is Helping Doctors Deliver the Highest Level of Care, TeleVox Software, Inc. Dec. 2012

The Public's Health Agenda

We've reported what clinicians are looking for in 2013 (see the January CardioSource WorldNews cover story). What do patients want? The Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health conducted a study partially funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The report, published on Jan. 24, 2013, presented the following findings:

  • In terms of policy:
    • 55 percent of respondents, including majorities of Republicans and Democrats, say establishing state insurance exchanges should be a "top priority" for their governor and legislature.
    • 52 percent support the expansion of Medicaid in their state.
    • 58 percent oppose any spending cuts to Medicare and 46 percent oppose any cuts to Medicaid.
  • The majority of respondents indicated their top health concerns are cancer (56 percent) and heart disease (35 percent), which has not changed since a similar 2007 poll.
  • However, that same six-year period saw a substantial increase in the proportion of the public who saw diabetes (30 percent in 2013 vs. 14 percent in 2007) and obesity (26 percent today vs. 6 percent in 2007) as posing one of the two greatest threats to health.

Keywords: Heart Diseases, Myocardial Infarction, Chronic Disease, Smoke, Medicaid, Obesity, Hypercholesterolemia, Medicare, Hypertension, Diabetes Mellitus

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