Report on Chronic Illness: A Call to Action

The IOM released the report, Living Well with Chronic Illness: A Call for Public Health Action, on Tuesday (Jan. 31). The report calls for immediate action to reduce the nation’s burden from all forms of chronic illness. The IOM's committee of health professionals and internationally recognized experts, which included Leigh Callahan, PhD of the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center and her UNC colleague Russell Harris MD, MPH worked for 12 months to compile the recommendations to improve the country's approach to chronic illness.

"This call to action underscores the importance of an integrated framework of coordination between public health, clinical care, and community agencies to ensure that individuals with chronic illness live well with their conditions," said Dr. Callahan.

"This report shows how important it is for public health agencies and medical systems to work together to take care of people with chronic illnesses," Harris said.

The committee did not focus on all chronic diseases, but used nine exemplar diseases that have notable implication for the nation's health and economy; impact quality of life and functional statue; cut across many chronic illnesses; complicate and/or increase risk for multiple chronic conditions; and impact the community, families, and caregivers. The nine exemplar diseases are:

  • arthritis
  • cancer survivorship
  • chronic pain
  • dementia
  • depression
  • type 2 diabetes
  • posttraumatic disabling condition
  • schizophrenia
  • vision and hearing loss

The seventeen recommendations of the committee are believed to be important strategies and steps to support public health action to help individuals living with chronic illnesses.

The entire report can be found at the Institute of Medicine website.

Callahan is a professor in the departments of Medicine and Social Medicine in the UNC School of Medicine, adjunct asssociate professor of epidemiology in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, and a research fellow at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research.

Harris is a professor of medicine in the UNC School of Medicine, member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and director of the health care and prevention concentration in UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health's Public Health Leadership Program. He is also adjunct professor of epidemiology in the public health school.

Media contact: Tom Hughes, 919-966-6047,

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