Population Health

March 14, 2023

Pop Health Data Science seminar explores the burden of disease in the United States

Image of Ali Mokdad presentingThe University of Washington Population Health Initiative and eScience Institute offered a two-part seminar series, “Pop Health Data Science,” during winter quarter 2023 to explore the application of data science methodologies to improve population health.

Dr. Ali H. Mokdad (pictured), the UW’s chief strategy officer for population health and professor of health metrics sciences, presented the inaugural seminar, “Burden of Disease in the United States,” on January 26, 2023. He explored the major drivers of health disparities as well as the history, methods and analytical principles underlying the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s (IHME) Global Burden of Disease Study. He also described a new IHME collaboration with the National Institutes of Health that is estimating the burden of disease for each U.S. county by race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

Some key takeaways from Mokdad’s seminar were that life expectancy in the U.S. is much lower than that of other high-income countries. The major risk factors behind this lower life expectancy are smoking, high body-mass index, high fasting plasma glucose and high blood pressure. Mokdad also discussed county-level data, and noted there are large disparities in life expectancy between men and women, with women falling behind faster than men in most parts of the country. The drivers of these disparities are socioeconomic inequalities, lack of financial access to healthcare, poor quality of care and preventable causes of death.

Finally, Mokdad discussed the impact of COVID-19 on the global and national burden of disease, calling out a large increase in cases of depression and anxiety around the world. He also noted that, while the full impact of COVID is not yet known, it has had a disproportionate impact on minorities. Mokdad closed by noting we need to take a comprehensive approach to addressing disparities through a mix of primary care and community-level interventions.

Watch the Recorded Seminar >