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U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration
HRSA NEWS ROOM
http://newsroom.hrsa.gov
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 31, 2011
CONTACT: HRSA PRESS OFFICE
301-443-3376

HRSA issues 2011 report on the health status, health behaviors and use of health care by U.S. women

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Women’s Health USA 2011, the tenth edition of an annual data book identifying priorities, trends and disparities in women’s health, is now available.

The 2011 edition highlights several new topics, including secondhand tobacco smoke exposure, Alzheimer’s disease, preconception health, unintended pregnancy, oral health care utilization and barriers to health care.   For the first time, the special population section of the report features data on the health of lesbian and bisexual women, as well as Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander women. Data on American Indian and Alaska Native women are also featured.

Women’s Health USA provides the public with a valuable resource for describing the status of women's health throughout the nation,” said HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N. “By highlighting critical health issues affecting women, this volume draws attention to age, income and race and ethnic disparities in women’s health.”

 The data indicate that historically underserved sub-populations of women are at increased risk for multiple negative health outcomes. Preventive care, increased access to vital health services, supports and resources can promote the health and well-being of all women.

Selected highlights of the publication include the following items:

  • Health-Related Quality of Life:  In 2007–2009, women aged 18 and older reported an average of 4.0 days of poor physical health per month, compared to 3.2 days reported by men in the same age group. Similarly, women reported an aver­age of 3.9 mentally unhealthy days compared to 2.9 days per month for men.

  • Health Services Utilization:  Barriers to care contribute to disparities in health care utilization and health status. In 2009, almost 20 percent of women aged 18-64 were uninsured.  About one-third (32.4 percent) of uninsured women reported they did not obtain needed care because it was too costly. In 2007-2009, women were twice as likely as men to have an unmet need for mental health treatment of counseling in the past year (6.7 percent versus 3.3 percent).

  • Oral Health Care Utilization:  Cost is a significant barrier to appropriate utilization of dental care.  In 2007-2009, over 15 percent of women reported they did not obtain needed dental care in the past year because they could not afford care. Health insurance helps to reduce cost as a barrier to health care; only about 10 percent of women with health insurance compared to 42.6 percent of women without health insurance reported they did not obtain needed dental care in the past year due to costs.

  • Preconception Health:  Efforts to improve pregnancy outcomes and the health of mothers and infants should begin prior to conception.  In 2006-2008, only about half of new mothers (51.1 percent) in a 29-state area reported a healthy pre-pregnancy weight and only29.7 percent reported taking a daily multivitamin prior to pregnancy.

  • Preventive Care:  Pap tests for cervical cancer screening are recommended every 3 years after the onset of sexual activity or age 21, whichever comes first, up to age 65.  In 2008, 81.8 percent of women aged 21-65 reported receiving a Pap test within the past 3 years.  However, non-Hispanic Asian women were less likely than women of other racial and ethnic groups to have received a Pap test in the past 3 years (70.4 versus 81.8 percent overall).

  • Special Populations:  As indigenous populations with a similar history of disenfranchisement, American Indi­an/Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islanders share some health disparities related to substance use and chronic conditions such as diabetes, which was twice as common in these populations as in non-Hispanic White women in 2007-2009.  However, American Indian/Alaska Native women have especially high rates of injury, while Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islanders have higher cancer inci­dence and mortality.

  • Special Populations:  Pronounced health disparities exist by sexual orientation. Both lesbian and bisexual women reported rates of smoking and binge drinking approximately twice as high heterosexual women.  In 2006-2008, nearly half of lesbian and bisexual women reported smoking, compared to less than one-quarter of heterosexual women.  Bisexual women were also less likely than heterosexual women to report having health insurance.

  • Violence Against Women:  In 2009, females were more than four times as likely to experience non-fatal intimate partner violence than males; females are also more than twice as likely as males to be killed by intimate partners.  Black females experience higher rates of both fatal and non-fatal violence than White females.

Women’s Health USA 2011 is available in print and online at http://www.mchb.hrsa.gov/whusa11/ and  online version now includes individually downloadable data tables and corresponding figures.  Print copies can be ordered through the HRSA Information Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK-HRSA or online at www.ask.hrsa.gov. For more information about women’s health visit www.hrsa.gov/womenshealth and for more information about maternal and child health is available at www.mchb.hrsa.gov/researchdata.

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The Health Resources and Services Administration is part of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. HRSA is the primary federal agency responsible for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated, or medically vulnerable. For more information about HRSA and its programs, visit www.hrsa.gov.