Living Well with Chronic Illness: a Call for Public Action

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Publication: MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
Date published: May 4, 2012

On April 30, 2012, the Institute of Medicine released the final version of a committee report titled, Living Well with Chronic Illness: a Call for Public Action. The independent report, funded by CDC and the Arthritis Foundation, identifies public health actions that might reduce disability and improve functioning and the quality of life of persons with chronic disease.

Beyond simply living longer, persons increasingly are interested in maintaining or even improving their capacity to live well over their entire lives. The committee defined the concept of living well as reflecting "the best achievable state of health that encompasses all dimensions of physical, mental, and social well-being."

The committee settled on a single guiding principle for their deliberations and recommendations: to help each affected person, and the population as a whole, to live well, regardless of the chronic illness in question or a person's current state of health. Instead of making recommendations for specific illnesses, the committee identified nine conditions that reflect the tremendous variation in chronic diseases and have had significant effects on the nation's health and economy to use as examples.* The committee concluded that the epidemic of chronic illness is moving toward crisis proportions but that maintaining or enhancing quality of life for persons living with chronic illnesses has not been given the attention it deserves.

The committee report offers Y] recommendations for immediate and specific steps CDC and other components of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and other federal and state agencies, might take to address chronic illness. The report is available at living-well-with-chronic-illness.aspx.

* The nine conditions include arthritis, cancer survivorship, chronic pain, dementia, depression, type 2 diabetes, posttraumatic disabling conditions, schizophrenia, and vision and hearing loss.

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