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Chronic Disease and Behavioral Epidemiology 

The ODH Chronic Disease and Behavioral Epidemiology Section, in the Center for Public Health Statistics and Informatics, collects, analyzes and distributes high-quality and timely population-based chronic disease and injury morbidity and mortality data and health behavior prevalence data. These data are used to identify high risk populations for chronic diseases and injuries, monitor health status, and design and evaluate intervention strategies. Data are provided to state and local programs, local health departments and researchers concerned with chronic disease and injury prevention and control.

In 2006-2008, chronic diseases (heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke and diabetes) and accidents/unintentional injuries comprised six of the seven-leading causes of death in Ohio, accounting for 68 percent of the 107,421 average annual deaths during the time period. As Ohio’s population continues to age, chronic diseases will become even more prevalent and increase in percentage as a cause of death.
All Ohioans, an estimated 11,542,645 residents in 2009, are at risk of developing a chronic disease or suffering an injury. Population-based chronic disease, injury, and health behavior data for Ohio by demographic subgroups (race, ethnicity, age, gender, and geography) are necessary to identify high-risk populations, monitor health status and develop and evaluate appropriate intervention strategies.
Chronic diseases and injuries can be prevented by targeting high-risk health behaviors. Ohio Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data for 2009 indicate 20 percent of Ohioans currently smoke cigarettes, 30 percent are obese, 51 percent have insufficient physical activity and 79 percent do not consume five or more fruits and vegetables per day. Strategies to reduce high-risk health behaviors are necessary to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with chronic diseases and injuries in Ohio.
All Ohioans are at risk for chronic diseases and injuries, although certain demographic populations are disproportionately affected. African Americans comprise 12 percent of Ohio’s population (1,395,368 in 2009) and have higher mortality rates of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes, compared to whites, American Indian/Alaskan Natives, and Asian/Pacific Islanders. Geographic disparities also exist with respect to chronic diseases and injuries; for example, residents of the 32-county Appalachian region of Ohio have higher rates of cancer incidence and mortality and a higher prevalence of smoking, obesity and no physical activity, compared to residents living in the non-Appalachian counties of Ohio.  Disparities also exist by gender and age group; males had higher mortality rates in 2006-2008, compared to females, for all six leading causes of death, and the risk of developing many chronic diseases or suffering an injury increases with advancing age.
Ohioans with low household income, low educational achievement and inadequate health insurance coverage are at greater risk of unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, insufficient physical activity and poor nutrition. These population characteristics are also associated with intentional injuries (e.g., domestic violence, homicide) and unintentional injuries (e.g., falls).
To reduce the burden of chronic diseases and injuries in Ohio, high-quality and timely population-based chronic disease, injury and health behavior data for Ohio must be collected, analyzed and provided to state and local programs, health departments and researchers concerned with chronic disease and injury prevention and control. The most recent, relevant data should be made available on an annual basis at both the state and county level and include demographic characteristics of interest (e.g., race, ethnicity, age, and gender), where available.

Last Reviewed 10/06/2014