While Nevada has raced along as the fastest growing state in the country for the better part of two decades, health professionals and health services have struggled to keep up.
Wei Yang, a health informatics professor and director of the Nevada Center for Health Statistics and Informatics, is helping the state make a better and more thoughtful accounting of the state’s health behaviors.
Yang has completed the first study to ever analyze statewide and comprehensive health behaviors on newcomers to Nevada.
Yang’s study evaluated the health behaviors of groups living I Nevada less than one year (newcomers), one to five years, five to 10 years and more than 10 years or Nevada born. More than 8,600 citizens took part in the study.
Yang’s findings: newcomers to Nevada are primarily from California, are younger, have lower incomes, are less Caucasian and are significantly changing the demographic structure of the state. Also of note: long-term Nevada residents were 6.8 times more likely to report living in a home with a firearm; newcomers were 1.7 more likely to report never being tested for HIV; long-term women residents were 2.4 times less likely to report never having a mammogram.
The study has important implications on many different fronts, Yang said.
“For the past two decades Nevada has been the fastest growing state in the nation,” he said. “The demographic structure and health behaviors of newcomers could significantly impact Nevada’s public health configuration which relates to health planning, prevention, health education and health care policies.”