Chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer are considered preventable even though they account for well over half of the United States’ cost on health care treatments. Results of a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center revealed that almost half of the adult population in the U.S. is living with at least one chronic disease.
“Our research makes it clear that when the chips are down, people are most likely to get advice from a clinician, but online resources are a significant supplement,” Susannah Fox, lead author of the study and an associate director at the Pew Research Center, said in a statement. “Just as significantly, once people begin learning from others online about how to cope with their illnesses, they join the conversation and also share what they know.”
Fox and colleagues oversaw a nationwide survey that included 3,014 telephone interviews. Respondents were asked if they were currently suffering from any chronic diseases, and about how they received, shared, or created health information both online and offline. Of the participants 1,498 adults reported having one or more chronic health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer — representing 45 percent of the survey’s population.
Findings also indicated that 72 percent of U.S. adults living with a chronic illness did not have access to the internet, compared to 89 percent of respondents with no chronic illness. Eighty percent of people living with two chronic health conditions were more likely to keep track of health indicators, such as weight, diet, exercise, blood pressure, and blood sugar, compared to 70 percent of those living with one chronic disease and 61 percent of those who had no chronic diseases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, treatment for chronic health diseases account for 75 percent of health care costs in the U.S. Chronic diseases include heart disease, stroke, and cancer, and contribute to 50 percent of the yearly death total. The four common causes of a chronic disease include a lack of physical activity, poor diet, tobacco use, and excessive alcohol consumption — the last three are also the leading causes of preventable death in the U.S. Based on the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, over one-third of adults in the U.S. do not meet physical activity recommendations.