Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part posting on Healthy People 2020. The second, which you can read this Thursday, covers how you can get more involved with Healthy People hearing initiatives in your state.
Improving the health of all Americans is the goal of a nationwide project, Healthy People. Launched in 1979 by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPH) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Healthy People sets and monitors national health objectives to meet a wide range of health issues, encourage research and guide the public in making the best health decisions.
Each decade, ODPH incorporates scientific learning and current data trends into a 10-year health plan for the nation. Healthy People 2020 (HP2020) objectives generate a vision of a “society in which all people live long, healthy lives.” Its mission is to improve health by strengthening policy and practice, identifying nationwide health improvement priorities and increasing public health awareness of the social and biological determinants of health, disease and disability.
Social determinants include unhealthy habits, such as smoking and exposure to loud noise. Biological determinants include, for example, genetics, infections, ototoxic and other sensitivities to certain medications, injury and age.
ASHA has been an active member of the Healthy People Consortium—more than 400 private and national organizations and state departments of health—since 1989. The consortium provides input into the development of new objectives in a multiyear process.
The ODPH expanded HP2020 objectives to include a new section on Hearing and Other Sensory or Communication Disorders. The section focuses on wellness, prevention and other objectives related to newborn hearing screening, hearing loss, otitis media, tinnitus, balance disorders, and voice, speech, and language.
Research and scientific evidence continue to identify emerging issues in hearing and other sensory and communication disorders. Genetic research involves identifying genetic components of many disorders, which may lead to earlier and more precise diagnosis and interventions. Co-morbid conditions and links—the way one disorder can lead to better diagnosis and treatment of another disease—are becoming more clear. Healthy People incorporates new evidence into its objectives.
For example, diabetes research is strengthening linkages between type 2 diabetes and hearing loss—a link largely unrecognized in the past—and contemporary research suggests that people with diabetes should get screened for hearing loss. The Healthy People objectives indicate that “New diabetes quality-of-care indicators are currently under development and may help determine whether appropriate, timely, evidence-based care” is linked to the reduction of risk factors.
You can get more involved in Healthy People initiatives in your community in several ways:
- Contact your Healthy People state or territorial coordinator for information about your state’s goals, plans and objectives.
- Get tools for implementing Healthy People objectives in your community at Implement Healthy People.
- Encourage your organization to join the Healthy People Consortium.
- Stay connected with Healthy People through email updates, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.
Pam Mason is ASHA director of audiology professional practices. email@example.com