American Perspectives on Chronic Disease and Control

Noreen M. Clark

in Public Health

ISBN: 9780199756797
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:
American Perspectives on Chronic Disease and Control


Chronic conditions have been recognized by the World Health Organization as the primary worldwide disease-related cause of morbidity and premature mortality. The medical and public health systems of most countries have traditionally focused on acute and infectious ailments. However, the dramatic increase in the global prevalence of chronic illness has caused a slow but steady shift by public health and medicine toward prevention and management of chronic disease. As the means for primary prevention of most chronic conditions are unknown (an important exception being smoking and cancer), emphasis is generally given to secondary prevention; that is, the reduction in the extent of complications, deterioration of health status, and burden of disease. Several types of action are required in chronic disease control. One is the identification of, and intervention with, common factors known to exacerbate disease onset or management. Poverty, sedentary living, and poor diets are some examples of the most common factors. Another level of action is the reformulation of health systems that are organized to respond to acute ailments to account for the longer-term services and assistance required to effect chronic disease control. Yet another is building the capacity of individuals, families, communities, and systems to prevent and manage chronic illness. The strength of these capacities is influenced by the policies that create the training, resources, and systems required for effective community-wide disease control. The list of chronic diseases that plague the health of the world’s peoples is long. Rather than focusing on each of the illnesses that add to the dismaying health outcomes evident around the globe, this article will focus on the area of noncommunicable disease in general so as to provide a broad view of sources of information regarding major issues that may be common across conditions. This author would like to thank Ms. Lee Rose Schrauben, MPH, for her assistance in the preparation of this article.

Article.  3396 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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