Less Education Correlates With Poorer Health

Drug Benefit Trends, Drug Benefit Trends Vol 21 No 5, Volume 21, Issue 5

US adults with lower levels of education have worse health on average, while those with more education are likely to be in better health (Cover Figure). Nearly half (45.2%) of US adults aged 25 to 74 years described themselves as being in less than very good health, with level of health directly correlated with education level attained, according to findings of Reaching America’s Health Potential Among Adults: A State-by-State Look at Adult Health, a survey released in May by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America. The relationship between lower levels of education and poorer health was consistent for all ethnic and racial groups (Figure).

US adults with lower levels of education have worse health on average, while those with more education are likely to be in better health (Cover Figure). Nearly half (45.2%) of US adults aged 25 to 74 years described themselves as being in less than very good health, with level of health directly correlated with education level attained, according to findings of Reaching America’s Health Potential Among Adults: A State-by-State Look at Adult Health, a survey released in May by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America. The relationship between lower levels of education and poorer health was consistent for all ethnic and racial groups (Figure).

Adults who had not graduated from high school were more than 2.5 times as likely to be in less than very good health as college graduates. Those who graduated from high school but did not attend college were nearly twice as likely to be in less than very good health compared with college graduates.

“Access to affordable, high-quality medical care is essential but that alone will not improve the health of Americans,” said Alice M. Rivlin, PhD, commission co-chair. “This report tells us that education has a tremendous impact on how long and how well we live. Policymakers need to focus on schools and education as well as promoting healthier homes, communities, and workplaces to improve the health of our nation.”

The percentage of US adults who consider themselves to be in less than very good health varied, ranging from a low of 34.7% in Vermont to a high of 52.9% in Mississippi. Health status among adults also varied across ethnic and racial groups. In nearly every state, the percentage of adults in less than very good health was lowest among whites, with blacks and Hispanics more likely to be in less than very good health.

Data for the Cover Figure and in the “Trend of the Month” are from Reaching America’s Health Potential Among Adults: A State-by-State Look at Adult Health, a 2009 survey by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America. The full report is available at www.commissiononhealth.org/Report. aspx?Publication=72672.