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Issue No. 48 - Oregon Health Trends Newsletter Archive
SERIES NO. 48
December 1997

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Survey Methodology

Men & Women Behaving Badly

On this page:

Sedentary Life-style and Exercise
Overweight
Seatbelt Nonuse
Drinking
Current Smoker
Chronic Hypertension
General Health
Have No Health Care Coverage
Diabetes
Cholesterol Screening
Immunized Against Influenza
Immunized Against Pneumonia
Pap Smears
Mammogram and Clinical Breast Exams
The Behavior Risk Factor survey (BRFS) is currently conducted by health departments in the 50 states and Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The survey, in which Oregon has participated since 1988, consists of approximately 120 questions related to behaviors associated with the leading causes of death. In 1996, 2,932 Oregonians aged 18 and older were interviewed in the random-digit dialed survey. The resulting data have been weighted by the CDC for age, sex, and the probability of being sampled within a household, thus giving the survey results a statistical representation of adult Oregonians' health-related behaviors.

CDC Web sites on Behavior Risk Factors: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/brfss/

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Sedentary Life-style and Exercise


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A sedentary life-style is defined as less than 20 minutes of physical activity three times a week. Of Oregonians surveyed in 1996, 46.1 percent were classified as leading a sedentary life-style, there has been little change since 1988. Estimates in 1994 place Oregonians, along with our Washington neighbors as the least sedentary states in the nation (The most current available national comparative data). However, if graded, Oregon would have a "D" instead of an "F". The nation's goal is that no more than 15 percent of the U.S. adult population leading a sedentary lifestyle. The most active individuals among both sexes were 18 to 24 years in age (61%). Activity levels fluctuated among other age groups until the level dropped among those 75+ in age (41%). Among Oregonians in 1996, men typically chose to walk, do yard work, and run; while women who exercised chose walking, yard work, and aerobics. However, Oregonians should not be smug and "sit on their laurels" thinking that they are the most active in the nation. This "sitting" has not led to being slimmer and more healthy.
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Overweight


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Oregonians have wider horizons and a tighter beltline. Twenty-eight percent of respondents reported heights and weights which categorized them as having an excessive body mass index (BMI=weight in kilograms/height in meters squared). Overweight status peaks between ages 55-64 for both sexes then decreases with age. Compared to other states in 1995, Oregonians fell in the median range for their overweight status. The range nationally was 21.8 to 34.7 percent among states in 1995.
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Seatbelt Nonuse


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Another belt that Oregonians have been tightening is their auto seatbelts. The percent of respondents reporting they "never, seldom or sometimes" use seatbelts has dropped considerably since the enactment of the Oregon mandatory seatbelt law. By 1995, only 5.6% of Oregonian reported that they did not buckle up on a regular basis. In 1995 only 2 other states (Hawaii and California) had rates of non-use lower than Oregon.
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Drinking


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Little change can be seen in the three of the major risk measures for alcohol consumption: acute drinking; drinking and driving; and chronic drinking. Although small decreases can be seen in both acute and chronic drinking, both of these numbers are particularly subject to random statistical variation. In 1995, nearly 14 percent of Oregonians reported engaging in acute drinking episodes during the previous month. At the same time, 1.8 percent of Oregonians reported driving after they felt they had too much to drink. Males were 2.3 times more likely to engage in acute drinking and three times more likely to drink and drive than females. Abuse or misuse decreased with age for both sexes. When compared to the 1995 ranking of states, Oregon was 18th in reporting drinking and driving and 25th for acute drinking behavior.

Chronic drinkers (average of 60 or more drinks in a month) are 4.4 times more likely to be men than women. Nationally among the states in 1995, the median prevalence for chronic drinking was 2.8 percent with a range from 1.2 to 5.6 percent. At 3.7 percent, Oregon was higher than 37 other states.

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Current Smoker


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Although not significantly different, the percentage of Oregonians smoking tobacco has risen from 20.6 percent in 1991 to 23.3% in 1996. Some of this increase is attributed to a slight change in the survey to include "irregular" smokers. Males were slightly more likely to smoke than females. Those least likely to smoke were Oregonians over 65 (11.3%). Among age groups under 65, no significant patterns associated with age emerged. In 1995, Oregon did slightly better than most other states, only 17 other states had lower percentages of their adult population that smoked. Nationally among states the median prevalence for current tobacco use was 22.4% with a range of 13.2% to 27.8%.
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Chronic Hypertension


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Nearly 24 percent of Oregonians were categorized as having hypertension. This percentage has increased, but not significantly in the last 5 years. These are individuals who have been told by a health practitioner that their blood pressure is high. Prevalence increased sevenfold with age. Although not statistically significantly different, females had higher rates than males (26.1% versus. 21.7). In 1995, thirty-nine states had lower percentages of individuals with hypertension than Oregon.
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General Health


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Three out of five adults reported that they were in excellent or very good health. Sixty-nine percent of those 18-54 consistently reported they were in excellent or very good health. The proportion then dropped sharply to 39 percent for those over 75. In 1995 residents of thirteen other states more often reported they were in excellent or very good health.
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Have No Health Care Coverage


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Thirteen percent of Oregonians reported they had no health insurance. Excluding individuals over 65 who qualify for Medicare, the age group most likely to have health insurance were those Oregonians 45-54. Twenty-nine percent of 18-24 year-olds were without insurance. In 1995, there were 30 other states that had fewer people without insurance. Hawaii at 5.7% was the lowest and Louisiana at 20.9% was the highest.
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Diabetes


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In 1996 more than four percent of Oregonians reported they had diabetes. The prevalence of diabetes increases steadily by age from a low of 0.6 percent (ages 18-24) to 10 percent (ages 55-65). In 1995, seventeen states had a lower prevalence of diabetes. The national comparison ranged from 2.7% to 6.4%.
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Cholesterol Screening < 5 years


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As the population ages, more individuals should be seeking cholesterol screening and prevention services. There has been little change in the measure since 1991. Two-thirds of Oregonians have had their cholesterol checked within the last five years. Of those under 55 years of age 57% had cholesterol screening while 92% of those 55 and older had their cholesterol checked during the last 5 years. In 1995, Oregonians ranked near the middle of the other states. The range among states for cholesterol screening varied from 55.1% to 72.9%.
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Immunized Against Influenza Among Persons 65+


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Seventy-one percent of persons 65 and older were immunized against influenza in 1996. This rate has risen since 1991. Oregon has met both the Oregon Benchmarks and the national Healthy People 2000 goals. In 1995, Oregon was third, following Utah and New Mexico, in achieving higher percentages of residents who had received their annual immunizations. The range nationally was 44% to 70% in 1995. For the purpose of separating "flu seasons", the data here contain only January through September surveys.
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Immunized Against Pneumonia Among Persons 65+


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Immunization rates for those most at risk of pneumonia have risen significantly in Oregon. Since 1991, when only 31% of Oregonians over the age of 65 were immunized, the percentage of people protected has risen to 52%. In 1995, Oregon had the second highest vaccination coverage after Arizona.
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Pap Smears Within The Last 3 Years


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The level of screening for cervical cancer has changed little during the last 6 years with 86 percent of women screened in 1996. Twenty states had higher screening rates than Oregon in 1995. Oregon fell into the middle of a range extending from 79 percent to 91 percent.
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Mammogram And Clinical Breast Exams Within The Last 2 Years


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More women age 50 and older have begun obtaining mammograms to screen for breast cancer. In 1990, sixty-one percent of Oregon females obtained mammograms, but by 1995 over seventy percent of older women were being screened. In 1995, only three states (Arizona, Maryland, and Massachusetts) had better breast cancer screening rates than Oregon. The range nationally was from 47.5% to 75.7%
Center for Health Statistics
Health Services
Oregon Department of Human Resources
800 NE Oregon Street, Suite 225
P.O. Box 14050
Portland, Oregon 97293-0050

Send comments, questions and address changes ATTN CDP&E or phone (971) 673-1180.


Material contained in this publication is in the public domain and may be reproduced without special permission. Please credit Oregon Health Trends, Oregon Public Health Division.