Healthy People 2030
Published May 24, 2023
Writer Andrea Wickstrom
Since 1980, every ten years the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has developed a comprehensive agenda for the upcoming decade to increase the health and well-being of the entire nation.
The project began in 1979 when Surgeon General Julius Richmond issued a report called "Healthy People: The Surgeon General's Report on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention."
It brought attention to the importance of populations, communities and individual health choices people make, as well as potential risk factors for health. Based on that insight, the Healthy People initiative was born.
The Healthy People initiative is an extensive undertaking to design, implement and measure progress.
What is the Healthy People Initiative?
The Healthy People initiative is an extensive undertaking to design, implement and measure progress. The framework — developed by subject matter experts — drives efforts to achieve health equity and eliminate health disparities among all people.
Objectives such as health conditions, health behaviors, populations, settings and systems are included. Core objectives — meaning they are the highest priority, measurable and have science-based interventions — are identified.
Also taken into consideration are social determinants of health, while leading health indicators look at coverage of the entire lifespan and leading causes of death and disease. These, and many other factors, combine to form a master plan for a healthier America.
As additional public health needs emerged over time, a significant number of new objectives have been added with each iteration. At its peak volume, Healthy People 2020 included more than 1300 objectives within 42 topic areas.
For the first time, in order to focus more intently on the highest priorities, Healthy People 2030 reduced the amount to 358 measurable goals. The second most recent initiative, Healthy People 2020, had the following overarching goals:
• High-quality, longer lives free of preventable diseases
• Achieve health equity and eliminate disparities
• Create social and physical environments that promote good health and quality of life
• Healthy development and behaviors across life stages
Alongside these goals, the vision for Healthy People 2020 was "a society in which all people live long, healthy lives."
Finally, the mission was to:
• Identify nationwide health improvement priorities
• Increase public awareness and understanding of the determinants of health, disease and disability and the opportunities for progress
• Supply measurable objectives and goals that are applicable at the national, state and local levels
• Engage multiple sectors to take actions to strengthen policies and improve practices that are driven by the best available evidence and knowledge
• Identify critical research, evaluation and data collection needs
At the end of each decade, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide statistical methods to compile and evaluate high-quality data.
Five decades and five iterations later, Healthy People 2030 reflects the past successes and deficiencies, as well as the current state of public health and its challenges.
The vision for Healthy People 2020 was "a society in which all people live long, healthy lives."
Healthy People also has specific indicators and targets for older Americans, which DHH defines as people 65 years and above.
Specific Indicators and Targets for Older Adults
Beginning with the 1990 iteration, goals for maintaining independence were included and have since remained. The CDC Healthy Aging Portal recaps the 2020 indicators with their associated targets including:
• Health and well-being
• Screening and vaccines
• Injury, mobility and bone health
• Mental health
What were the 2020 end-of-decade results for older adults? Here is a summary of the final status:
• 28.6% of objectives got worse
• 42.9% of goals had little or no detectible change
• 7.1% of goals showed improvement
• 21.4% of goals were met or exceeded
The Current Iteration
The top focal points for Healthy People 2030 are health equity, health literacy and social determinants of health. Health equity means attaining the highest level of health care for all people, while health literacy is understanding and using health care information.
As HHS defines, "Social determinants of health are the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship and age that affects a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risk."
What are the 2030 objectives for older adults? The U.S. Census Bureau reports that by 2030, one in five people — and every last Baby Boomer — will be at least 65 or older. In addition, by 2034, it is projected that older adults will outnumber children.
Indeed, much important work must be done for our nation and its health challenges.
Therefore, reducing health problems, maintaining independence and quality of life remain top priorities. Thus, the 2030 iteration emphasizes health equity and reducing health disparities (preventable differences among socially disadvantaged groups) to achieve these outcomes.
The following are the older people's objectives with coinciding targets as outlined (verbatim) on the official Healthy People 2030 website:
• Increase the proportion of older adults with dementia, or their caregivers, who are aware they have dementia
• Reduce the proportion of preventable hospitalizations in older adults with dementia
• Increase the proportion of adults with subjective cognitive decline who have discussed their symptoms with a provider
2. Foodborne Illness
• Reduce infections caused by Listeria
• Infectious disease
• Reduce the rate of hospital admissions for urinary tract infections among older adults
3. Injury Prevention
• Reduce fall-related deaths among older adults
• Reduce the proportion of older adults who use inappropriate medications
• Reduce the rate of emergency department visits due to falls among older adults
4. Oral Conditions
• Reduce the proportion of older adults with untreated root surface decay
• Reduce the proportion of adults aged 45 years and over who have lost all their teeth
• Reduce the proportion of adults aged 45 years and over with moderate and severe periodontitis
• Reduce hip fractures among older adults
• Increase the proportion of older adults who get screened for osteoporosis
• Increase the proportion of older adults who get treated for osteoporosis after a fracture
6. Respiratory Diseases
• Reduce the rate of hospital admissions for pneumonia among older adults
• Reduce hospitalizations for asthma in adults aged 65 years and over
7. Sensory or Communication Disorders
• Reduce vision loss from age-related macular degeneration
8. Other General Areas
• Increase the proportion of older adults with physical or cognitive health problems who get physical activity
• Reduce the rate of pressure ulcer-related hospital admissions among older adults
• Reduce the rate of hospital admissions for diabetes among older adults
As we are well into 2023, The Healthy People 2030 iteration is in full swing. Much important work must be done for our nation and its health challenges.