Government Relations Update

APA and partners sponsor briefing on “What’s Ailing America”

U.S. lags behind other developed nations in life expectancy.

The Government Relations Office of the American Psychological Association’s Science Directorate worked with the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA) and other behavioral and social science organizations to organize a Sept. 25 congressional staff briefing titled "What's Ailing America: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health." Speakers were Steven Woolf, of Virginia Commonwealth University, Janine Clayton, director of the National Institute of Health’s Office of Research on Women's Health, and psychologist Robert Kaplan, director of NIH's Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research. The speakers discussed findings from a recent Institute of Medicine report showing that U.S. mortality rates across all ages, ethnicities and income levels are generally higher than those of other developed countries.

The fact that people in the U.S. experience overall poorer health is not solely due to racial, ethnic or income disparities, to lesser access to health services, or to any one major factor such as easy access to firearms. Multiple factors contribute to U.S. health, including behavioral and social factors: people in the U.S. consume more calories, have more involvement with substance abuse and wear seatbelts less often than counterparts in other developed nations. The U.S. spends more per person on health care than other nations, but that money buys less longevity. Healthier nations invest more than the U.S. in social services.  

The briefing was attended by more than 65 staff from congressional offices, federal agencies and nonprofit organizations.  

Detailed coverage of the speakers’ presentations, including their slides, can be found in COSSA’s Washington Update.

Left to right: Robert Kaplan, Thomas Plewes, Steven Woolf and Janine Clayton.

Left to right: Robert Kaplan, Thomas Plewes, Steven Woolf and Janine Clayton. 


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