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Health Strategy Summary

Health is more than medical care: a variety of factors determine the health of individuals and a community. These "underlying determinants" include demographic composition, income and poverty, employment, social status, cultural beliefs and practices, level of educational attainment, environmental conditions, genetics, individual behaviors, and public health measures, in addition to the quality and utilization of health care services.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Executive Summary
  • Issues, Challenges, Opportunities
  • A New Vision for Health
  • Recommendations
  • Special Indicators to Watch
  • Appendices
  • Endnotes

Traditionally, most planning efforts have focused only on the delivery of public health and medical services, even though the other factors are known to have a greater influence on community and individual health. This strategy paper focuses on the underlying determinants of health, and explores the connections between health and a variety of contributing factors, such as education, land use, transportation, food, hunger, civic engagement, workforce, and the economy, providing strategic recommendations that can be implemented in these sectors to improve health throughout this region.

A sample of findings:

Chronic Diseases

Chronic diseases are the greatest cause of mortality and disability, accounting for more than 70 percent of all health care expenditures. Reducing the burden of chronic disease offers the greatest impact for improving the heath of all population groups.

Infant Mortality

Infant mortality varies greatly across the region, being twice as high in Cook County as in McHenry County. Infant mortality in all counties except Cook is either at or below the national average.

Causes of Death

For breast cancer, colon cancer, heart disease and homicide, rates are significantly higher in Cook County, likely reflecting the sociodemographic and health insurance conditions. And for breast cancer, even after adjustments, rates are higher in Cook, DuPage and Kane counties.

Stroke death rates are significantly higher in Kane and Lake counties, which may reflect access to care and risk factor conditions associated with large pockets of lower income and underserved populations.

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