Where to Live, and How to Live Well: WHO and CDC data, and the 2009 Consumer Reports Patient Satisfaction Survey!
Dear Patients & Friends:
Quiz time. In what countries were female children born in 2003 expected to live longer than children born in the United States that same year: a) Switzerland, b) Malta, c) Japan, d) Andorra, e) all of the above?
According to World Health Organization statistics in 2003, you hit the jackpot if you were a female born in Japan where you should live to the age of 85. Andorra (age 84), Switzerland (age 83), and even Malta (age 81) were better bets than the United States, although at 80 female longevity is on the rise. So the correct answer? E) All of the above!
In all, there were 27 other countries, primarily European and Mediterranean areas, where babies would be expected to outlive an American female. American males born that same year are expected to fare much worse, and are only expected to live to the age of 75.
Perhaps even more telling is the Healthy Life Expectancy (HALE) statistic for 2002. If you were born in that year in the U.S. you would expect to be healthy until age 69, while in 28 other countries—like San Marino and Slovenia—you would live healthy into your seventies. Can someone tell me where San Marino and Slovenia are (without going to Google Earth)?
So what does all this mean? How did we get the most expensive health care system in the world, without the fruits of lowest mortality and least disability? And should we all make plans to move to Slovenia?
It turns out scientists believe the most important factors affecting longevity have more to do with our own behaviors than with access to our health care system (see text box next page). So as we’ve discussed in prior newsletters, we don’t have to move to Slovenia any time soon, especially if we’re willing to adopt more healthy lifestyles here in Mississippi
However, there’s one more behavior that you might want to consider if you want to live well and with less disability.
In perhaps the largest survey to date of patient satisfaction with back pain treatment, Consumer Reports (CR) May 2009 issue reports on a survey of more than 14,000 CR subscribers who had lower back pain in the prior year but had never had back surgery. More than half of those surveyed said the pain had severely limited their daily routine for a week or longer, and 88 percent said the pain recurred through the year. A number of respondents reported pain interfered with sleep, sex, and with their efforts to maintain a healthy weight.
Among all therapies rated by respondents, chiropractic was considered most effective. Indeed, 59% were “completely” or “very” satisfied with their chiropractor, and 58% said that chiropractic care “helped a lot,” according to the May 2009 issue of CR (see text box prior page).
Among home therapies used by those surveyed, greatest relief was found from doing exercise, 44%, and 58% wished they had done more exercise to help prevent back pain in the past year, more than double the number that believed restricting their activities would have helped them more. A separate survey of 1,000 respondents who had back surgery found that only 60% were satisified with their results (worse, 8% said the pain was unchanged, and another 8% said their back pain worsened after surgery). Altogether, 50% of those getting surgery found at least one problem with recovery, including that recovery was lengthier or more painful than expected.
It would not be fair to compare chiropractic to medicine in this trial due to the limitations of survey research. However, large but separate groups of patients rated chiropractic nearly as effective as surgery for back pain, a finding actually supported by decades of prior research.
So here’s the deal, forget Slovenia. Instead, stay active, eat right, avoid bad habits, be sure to get your chiropractic adjustments as needed, and live well right here in Mississippi!
For More Resources on this subject:
To access core health indicators for health by country and by indicator at the World Health Organization website: http://www.who.int/whosis/database/core/core_select.cfm
To learn more about the 10 leading health indicators in the U.S. visit: http://wonder.cdc.gov/data2010/LHI.htm
To read Consumer Reports May 2009 survey of patient satisfaction with back pain treatment: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/may-2009/health/back-pain/overview/back-pain-ov.htm