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Report: Health Care System Falling Short For Stress Management

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CBS Detroit (con't)

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DETROIT (WWJ) - Detroit residents, like Americans across the country, are finding a disconnect with what they want from their health care provider and what they actually receive, according to a new survey released by the American Psychological Association.

Thirty-five percent of Detroit residents say their stress has increased over the past year — and more Detroit residents report experiencing symptoms of stress this year, including headaches (31 percent in 2012 vs. 25 percent in 2011), changes in sleeping habits (34 percent in 2012 vs. 30 percent in 2011) and being unable to concentrate (24 percent in 2012 vs. 19 percent in 2011).

The survey shows that only 38 percent of Detroit residents give their physical health care an “A” grade and only 26 percent of Detroit residents would give the same “A” grade to their mental health care.

Similarly, one-quarter of Detroit residents say that they discuss stress management with their health care provider often or always, which while low, is higher than Americans overall (26 percent vs. 17 percent nationally).

Stress also remains higher than what Detroit consider healthy. Detroit residents report an average stress level of 5.1 (on a 10 point scale), which is 1.4 points higher than what they define as a healthy level of stress (3.7 on a 10 point scale).

Survey respondents in Detroit cite money, work, and the economy as the most common sources of stress, similar to adults nationwide (money: 69 percent for Detroit and nationally; work: 78 percent vs. 65 percent; economy: 65 percent vs. 61 percent). Detroit residents report reading (53 percent), exercising or walking (51 percent), and listening to music (46 percent) as ways that they manage their stress.

Katherine Nordal, a psychologist and executive director of professional practice with the American Psychological Association, said the fact that most Detroiters aren’t discussing their stress with their health care provider is concerning.

“With Detroit residents reporting higher levels of stress than what they consider healthy, it is important for people to talk to their provider about ways they can manage stress to prevent stress-related illness,” Nordal said in a statement.

Findings from the national survey “Stress in America: Missing the Health Care Connection” suggest that people are not receiving what they need from their health care providers to manage stress and address lifestyle and behavior changes to improve their health.

The survey showed that while Americans think it is important that health care focuses on issues related to stress and living healthier lifestyles, their experiences do not seem to match up with what they value. For example, though 32 percent of Americans say it is very/extremely important to talk with their health care providers about stress management, only 17 percent report that these conversations are happening often or always.

The Stress in America survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Psychological Association between August 3 and 31, 2012, among 2,020 adults aged 18 and older. In addition, an oversample of 221 adults living in the Detroit area was collected.

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