Why Are Death Rates Rising Among Some Whites in Kansas?
Long-term mortality rates in the U.S. had been steadily decreasing for all racial and ethnic groups. Recently, that trend has been disrupted among middle-age, White, non-Hispanics, in the U.S. and in Kansas. The mortality rate from stress related conditions—drug overdoses, alcohol poisoning, alcoholic liver disease and suicide—has more than doubled since the late 1990s for White, non-Hispanic, Kansans age 25-64. What are the causes of this concerning trend?
Where and Why is This Happening?
Stress-related condition mortality among White, non-Hispanics, age 25-64, increased significantly between 1995 and 2014 in all but the Northwest region. The largest relative increase (158 percent) occurred in North Central Kansas. Southeast Kansas, where death rates from all causes were already the highest in the state, experienced the second highest relative increase (147 percent).
'Deaths of Despair'
Stress-Related Condition (SRC) deaths among White, non-Hispanic, Kansans, age 25-64, increased by 112% between 1995 and 2014. Three SRC conditions—drug overdoses, alcoholic liver disease and suicides—accounted for almost half (48%) of the excess deaths from all causes between 2000 and 2014.
"While understanding the factors responsible for recent mortality trends among whites in Kansas is important to addressing the public health crisis in that population, of equal importance is determining if these factors could signal disturbing health trends that could be affecting other groups. This report helps underscore the importance of addressing the root causes of poor health—including social, economic and environmental conditions—and of adopting policy solutions that can ensure opportunities for optimal health among Kansans of all backgrounds."
The Kansas Health Institute supports effective policymaking through nonpartisan research, education and engagement. KHI believes evidence-based information, objective analysis and civil dialogue enable policy leaders to be champions for a healthier Kansas. Established in 1995 with a multiyear grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, KHI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization based in Topeka.