The not-for-profit Trust for America's Health is calling for a revamp of public health management at the federal, state and local levels in a report that urges a greater focus on preventive care.
Encourage Texans to take personal responsibility for their own health
Texas needs to support our citizens in taking more responsibility for their health and health care decisions.
The key to maintaining health lies in helping patients assume responsibility for their own health with regular support from their physicians. Competent, compassionate medical care, delivered with professionalism, state-of-the-art clinical knowledge, and patient respect are critical components of this responsibility. Conversely, patients have a responsibility to make informed, healthy decisions.
Physicians must continue to emphasize the importance and power of personal responsibility in patients’ health outcomes. Over the past century, public health interventions have effectively reduced and, in some cases, eliminated illness and death. We must use education and preventive medicine measures to go further — to curb the need for the complex treatment required once a preventable condition develops. Each occurrence of preventable chronic disease is costly to Texas’ government and businesses, to our economy, and to our people.
Personal health and wellness depend on the behavioral decisions we make as well as the social and environmental factors to which we are exposed throughout a lifetime. Four out of 10 Texas adults report at least one factor — high cholesterol, obesity, high blood pressure, a sedentary lifestyle, or a smoking habit — that puts them at high risk of developing a chronic disease. Many adults have more than one risk factor and can develop multiple chronic conditions.
These chronic diseases are killers that strike down Texans before their time. Tobacco, for instance, is directly responsible for the death of 24,000 Texans each year. This is more than homicide, HIV, suicide, influenza and pneumonia, accidents, and diabetes — combined.
Patients and their families trust their physicians to guide and influence decisions made to protect the patient’s health. However, with the massive information and misinformation in today’s super technology-driven environment, each patient and family needs the truth. Health literacy — patients’ education and ability to read, follow instructions, and communicate verbally — also affects their health. Nine out of 10 adults struggle with fully understanding basic health information as seen in advertisements, stores, the news, and in their communities.
All physicians and health care providers need to educate themselves on the cross-cultural dynamics that can impact a patient’s understanding and compliance with treatment. So, too, must the government’s education efforts evolve to accommodate the diverse cultures among poorer populations to ensure materials and programs connect with our population.