,,A Portrait of the Chronically Ill in America, 2001

A Portrait of the Chronically Ill in America, 2001


Publication Date: January 2001

Publisher: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; FACCT - The Foundation for Accountability

Author(s): J. Fiorillo; David Lansky; Christina Bethell

Research Area: Health

Keywords: Chronic disease; quality measures; patient centered care

Type: Report


Almost one-half of all Americans report having a chronic illness—and they account for 75 percent of our national spending on health care. Almost one in five Americans have hypertension, one in 10 report clinical depression, and one in 12 have asthma. The importance of this population and its needs has led to a surge in serious research and experimentation. Information abounds about the prevalence, cost, and emerging care models appropriate to these patients—but little coherent summary information is available on how well Americans are living with chronic illness, how well they are able to care for themselves or how well our health system cares for them.

Are patients achieving maximum achievable levels of routine functioning and quality of life? Are those with chronic illness able to manage their problems, comply with recommended therapies, minimize symptom burden and avoid serious complications? Are our health professionals and health care organizations delivering state-of-the-art care to their patients? Are there barriers to care or systematic and inappropriate variations in care that can be corrected?

This report explores these questions by applying new techniques in web-based data collection. the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in collaboration with the Foundation for Accountability, conducted a series of online surveys of chronic disease sufferers to learn more about their lives and their care. This study included surveys with over 6,000 people suffering from one of six conditions: arthritis, asthma, coronary artery disease, diabetes, depression or hypertension. Most people were asked a common core set of questions, and each group was also asked questions specific to the recommended medical practices for their particular diagnosis.

In this overview, we highlight a few themes that appear to be intrinsic to the experience of all those suffering from chronic illness in America. This report looks to address:

* What is the impact of chronic illness on the overall health, behavior and quality of life of those affected?
* Can people with chronic illness get access to needed medical care and related services?
* Is the U.S. health system providing the appropriate, recommended services to people with chronic illness?
* Are people with chronic illness working effectively as partners with health professionals in managing their illness?

The interactive charts and graphs are used to present statistics from this report.