Lung Disease

What causes Lung Disease?

The most common causes of lung disease include smoking, radon, asbestos, and air pollution (source).

Why is this a priority?

There has been some improvement in the data surrounding lung disease since the 2016 Regional Health Assessment. However, all indicators for lung disease in the Ozarks Health Commission (OHC) Region perform worse than the nation. 

What are our hospitals seeing?

In regard to hospital data, Emergency Departments (ED) across the OHC Region have experienced the burden of lung disease firsthand. Of all Assessed Health Issues (AHI), 46% of diagnoses are due to diseases of the respiratory system.

What is our community seeing?

For the OHC Region overall, the secondary data indicators, except the percent of adults that live with asthma, have improved since the previous assessment. However, all still perform much worse than the nation. 

Additionally, in a 2018 report on substance use among adolescents, the National Institute on Drug Abuse noted concern about the growing trend of vaping undermining progress on smoking rates. (source)

What does it cost?

One of the major contributors to lung disease is tobacco use. Not only does smoking affect the individual user, it also affects people around them, including employers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 440,038 employed individuals in the OHC Region in 2017. The smoking rate for the Region is 24.6%. Therefore, an estimated 108,249 people are employed and smoking. According to Berman, et al. (source), the annual cost to employers for a single smoker is $5,816. 

What can communities do? 

Communities can take an active role in reducing the impact of lung disease and its risk factors. The OHC encourages communities to adopt evidence-based strategies. Below are some ideas for communities to consider when addressing lung disease.

Improve access to appropriate care. Building a community that supports individuals to access the right care at the right time is critical. Efforts can focus on reducing barriers to care, improving referrals between community organizations, enhancing the healthcare workforce, and advocating for change that positively increases access to appropriate care.

Reduce tobacco use. Communities can take multiple actions to decrease the impact of tobacco use. Developing, implementing, and connecting people to smoking cessation programs can provide timely support for individuals seeking to quit. Implementing public policies, such as clean indoor air and raising the legal age to purchase tobacco, can limit access and exposure to tobacco products.

Focus on vulnerable populations. Some groups within a community may be more susceptible to lung disease or its effects. Communities should examine potentially vulnerable populations such as children, the poor, and particular racial groups. If disparities exist, community partners should determine appropriate approaches.

To see what our community is doing about this health priority and what progress has been made, view our Community Health Improvement Plan: 
Mercy CHIP