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The geography of disability and the American Nations

Over at Nationhood Lab, the research project and data journalism portal I lead at Salve Regina University’s Pell Center, I write about research we recently published in the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention parsing disability rates across the American Nations regional cultures.

The study used county-level data for 2021 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to examine rates of self-reported disabilities, including those related to hearing, vision, cognition, mobility, self-care and independent living and found significant differences in age-adjusted disability rates across U.S. regional cultures. The rate in the Deep South (32.1% of the population) was about sixth higher than in New Netherland (23.4%) or Left Coast (25.4%) In the First Nation section of Alaska, an alarming 39.2% of the adult population is disabled.

This one of ten academic papers published or accepted over the last nine months from a collaboration between myself, two public health researchers –Ross Arena of the University of Illinois – Chicago and HealthPartners Institute president Nicolaas Pronk — and a rotating cast of specialists in various sub-fields. The papers — including two just published by the American Medical Journal — and data analysis at Nationhood Lab have , and revealed similar county-level geographic patterns for a wide range of phenomena, including Covid-19 vaccinations and deaths, deadly gun violence, life expectancy, diabetes, obesity and physical inactivity.

I wrote about our work on obesity, diabetes, and physical inactivity — published in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases and Current Problems in Cardiology — previously here.