The 2014 North Carolina Women's Health Report Card released May 12 demonstrates that North Carolina women are receiving preventative health services at a rate surpassing the goals of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’s Healthy People 2020.
The report, compiled by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s (UNC) Center for Women's Health Research (CWHR), is a progress report on the health and health care needs of the state’s 5+ million women.
The Healthy People 2020 goal for receiving mammograms, colonoscopy, and adequate dental care target is 49 percent. CWHR, which utilized data from 2012, found 72.4 percent of North Carolina women over 50 have had a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy; 79.4 percent of women over 50 have had a mammogram in the past two years; and 68.4 percent of women have been to a dentist or dental clinic within the past year. Sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy tests detect the presence of precancerous polyps—abnormal growths in the colon or rectum. Breast cancer, the most common cancer among American women, is commonly detected during mammograms. Early detection increases a patient’s likelihood of recovery.
Previous report cards released by CWHR demonstrate that this is part of a steady, decade-long, increase in positive finds for preventative services for the state’s female population. Women are also meeting national health recommendations by receiving Pap tests every three years (81.7 percent) and a routine physical within the past year (78.7%).
“In the area of preventative health, two thirds or more of women in North Carolina are receiving preventative health screenings,” said Dr. Susan Girdler, professor in the Department of Psychiatry, and Director for the UNC Psychiatry Stress and Health Research Program. “This may well contribute to [another] positive finding in the report card that 46.1 percent of women in NC are free of any chronic illness.”
The report card is distributed to medical and public health professionals, policy makers, researchers and women's health advocacy groups throughout the state. Data was compiled from state health behavior surveys, vital statistics, disease reporting systems, and US Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau reports. Preventive health, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, perinatal health, mental health and substance abuse are the key measures examined. The biennial health report is the only one of its kind in North Carolina.
Healthy People 2020 serves as the foundation for prevention efforts across HHS. It provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans by establishing benchmarks and monitoring progress over time.
The mission of CWHR is to improve women’s health through research by focusing on diseases, disorders and conditions that affect women only, women predominately, and/or women differently than men. Research efforts that require the most attention are identified through the collection and analysis of data for the report card. Current areas of research targeted by the Center include perinatal health, cancers affecting women, obesity, diabetes, women’s cardiovascular health, women’s mental health and substance abuse.
A full copy the 2014 North Carolina Women’s Health Report Card may be downloaded at here.