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The Health of Mid-Life Women in the States


by Cynthia B. Costello, Jennifer E. Griffith, Angela Wilbon, and Ashley Redfearn (1998)
Price: $6.50

The Health of Mid-Life Women in the States focuses on the health status of women between the ages of 45 and 65 when the normal aging process, together with lifestyle factors, put women at risk for the onset of chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, as well as for osteoporosis. This 54-page report presents state-by-state data from the 1993 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFFS) on crucial indicators of health for mid-life women (women were surveyed in 49 states and the District of Colum-bia). All BRFSS data refer exclusively to women between the ages of 45 and 65. We were able to analyze data by race and Hispanic origin for four states-California, Florida, New York, and Texas. The BRFSS data are supplemented by data on osteoporosis and low bone mass for women age 50 and over from the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

The BRFSS indicators used in this report are:

  • lack of health insurance coverage;
  • risky health behaviors (i.e. cigarette smoking, excessive drinking, and being overweight);
  • awareness of high blood pressure; high blood cholesterol, and diabetes; and
  • screening related to heart disease and cancer of the breast, cervix, and colon.
  • The proportion of mid-life women who lack health insurance coverage of any kind varies greatly across the country: in Rhode Island it is less than three percent, in Texas nearly 20 percent. In a number of states, large percentages of the uninsured women had lost their coverage within the previous two years. Black and Hispanic women had higher rates of uninsurance than did white women.

  • Across the states, high numbers of women report high-risk behaviors, with approximately one in five reporting that they smoke and two in five reporting that they are overweight. However, fewer than four out of 100 women reported that they drank excessively.

  • Black and Hispanic mid-life women were significantly more likely than white mid-life women to report high blood pressure, one indicator of cardiovascular disease. Nationwide, black women were twice as likely as white women age 45-64 to report diabetes. Hispanic women reported an especially high rates of diabetes in Texas (21 percent), three times the national median (6.6 percent) for women of all races.

  • Black and Hispanic mid-life women were less likely than their white counterparts to receive screening for breast, cervical and colon cancers. In Texas, where 48.3 percent of mid-life women who are white had received mammograms and clinical breast exams within the previous two years, only 18 percent of those who are black and 23.1 percent of Hispanic women had.



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