Declining Health-Related Quality of Life in the U.S.

Source: American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Author:  Larry Chapman

Unfortunately, some more bad news!  The health aspects of quality of life of Americans is clearly deteriorating.  This 10-year comparison showed a highly significant erosion of the perceived health-related quality of life ratings from a large national sample of adults (N = 79,402).  People are feeling worse about their health status and its impact on the quality of their lives.

This has relevance to our efforts in worksite wellness.  Many wellness programs have down-played their health emphasis and shifted to a “well-being” emphasis, but this national data questions the wisdom of that shift. The analysis of data from large national population surveys shows that for workers under the age of 55 approximately 22% of the erosion in their average rating of the quality of life was directly due to health or medical-related factors.  For those adults over the age of 55, fully 35% of the erosion was due to health or medical-related factors.

At a population-wide level, the major factors that have contributed to a perception of a lower quality of life by adult Americans were: medical (21.9%; obesity, cardiac disease, hypertension, arthritis, medical injury), economic (15.6%; financial crisis, job loss), substance use (15.3%; substance use disorder or marijuana use), mental health (13.1%; depression and anxiety disorders), and social (11.2%; partner, neighbor, or coworker problems) risks.

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