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Public health solutions for declining life expectancy

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Since 2015, average life expectancy in the U.S. has gradually declined among all racial and ethnic groups. Causes include substance abuse, chronic diseases, mental health factors, metabolic diseases, and various cancers. In a recent opinion piece published in the February 12 online edition of Annals of Internal Medicine, Rollins researchers recommended possible solutions to this growing health issue.

“Our recommendation is that we take a more integrated and more holistic approach to research whereby we do not study biology in a vacuum, but in the context of socioeconomic and political factors,” says Dr. K.M. Venkat Narayan, co-author and the Ruth and O.C. Hubert Chair in Global Health.

Life expectancy in the U.S. ranks lowest among other high-income countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). OECD includes 36 of the world’s most advanced and emerging countries. The U.S. also averages 2.5 times the average health spending of OECD countries and spends nearly $171.6 billion annually on medical and health research.

“The difficult part is that we are not dealing with a single factor,” says Dean James W. Curran. “We have to understand how all of these additional important factors—socio-economic and political—interact with biology and access to care.”

Authors call for a realignment of the nation’s research investments toward transdisciplinary science in order to better identify actionable solutions to improve population health.

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"Public health researchers recommend reevaluating approach amid declining US life expectancy"  (2/11/19)


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