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Health Concerns Facing Patients in North Carolina

Chronic conditions such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes are the leading causes of death in the United States, and they are also among the most urgent health issues in North Carolina. Students in RN to BSN nursing programs can expect to study these conditions.

Top 5 Killers

According to the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics, the top five causes of death in 2014 were cancer, heart disease, chronic lung disease, stroke and unintentional injuries. In North Carolina, which was ranked 31st in overall health for all states, tobacco use kills 14,000 people each year, and heart disease and stroke account for one out of every seven hospital admissions. Annually, 40 percent of residents develop cancer.

Studies show that obesity is one of the primary health issues in North Carolina. More than 60 percent of adults and 16 percent of 10- to 17-year-olds are obese. The numbers are troubling because obesity can lead to heart disease and diabetes. These diseases not only affect the individuals, they also take a larger toll on society. Diabetes-related complications in adults can lead to missed work days.

Healthy Paths

The statistics for health issues in North Carolina may be grave, but many of these conditions are completely preventable. Private and public healthcare providers are proactively creating programs to improve health.

The Chronic Disease and Injury Section of North Carolina Department of Health and Public Services has created programs that aim to improve the well-being of all residents of North Carolina.

  • To encourage children to be more active by walking or biking to school, the Active Routes to School initiative partnered with the Department of Transportation to create safer sidewalks and bike trails.
  • Over 14,000 people have viewed the Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less series of online classes since 2008. 70 percent of these have lost weight and kept it off.
  • The N.C. Diabetes Education Recognition Program taught diabetes management skills to people in 48 counties.
  • Local health units throughout North Carolina screened 13,000 women for breast and cervical cancer in one year.

One private initiative to control childhood obesity comes through Brenner Children’s Hospitals and their Brenner FIT program. Through Brenner FIT, children from ages two to 18 with weight-related medical issues can learn how to incorporate healthy habits into their lives. With the help of their families, young subjects undergo a complete weight and health analysis before embarking on a series of cooking, movement, and parenting classes over several weeks.

Community Health Assessments — Surveys to Solutions

Regular community health assessments are often responsible for bringing health issues in North Carolina to light. Required by local health departments for accreditation, these assessments help local governments and health facilities get a picture of current health problems and successes and create an action plan for improving the health of North Carolina residents.

Community health assessments follow a prescribed process that starts with a team of healthcare providers, institutions and patient groups. This team uses interviews and focus groups to gather community opinions on health concerns and healthcare services. The team also analyzes data collected by public agencies and private providers. The result is a community healthcare assessment that identifies healthcare priorities and plans of action.

Although there are real and troubling health issues in North Carolina, there are also people and programs that offer hope. RN to BSN in nursing graduates have an essential role to play in improving health in North Carolina.

Learn more about the UNCW online RN to BSN program.


Retrieved from McConnell, J. D., MD. (2016, February 29). North Carolina: 50 States of Population Health. Becker’s Hospital Review

Retrieved from Chronic Disease and Injury Section. (n.d.). NC Division of Public Health

Retrieved from North Carolina State Health System Ranking. (n.d.). The Commonwealth Fund

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