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Frequent Physical Distress
Frequent Physical Distress in Louisiana

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Frequent Physical Distress by State

Percentage of adults who reported their physical health was not good 14 or more days in the past 30 days

Frequent Physical Distress Trends

Percentage of adults who reported their physical health was not good 14 or more days in the past 30 days

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Frequent Physical Distress

About Frequent Physical Distress

US Value: 10.9%

Top State(s): Hawaii: 7.5%

Bottom State(s): West Virginia: 16.0%

Definition: Percentage of adults who reported their physical health was not good 14 or more days in the past 30 days

Data Source and Years: CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2021

Suggested Citation: America's Health Rankings analysis of CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, United Health Foundation,, accessed 2023.

Frequent physical distress is based on self-reported poor physical health days. The measure aims to capture the population experiencing persistent and likely severe physical health problems, which may have a significant impact on health-related quality of life and overall wellness. The cutoff point of 14 or more days a month of poor physical health has been validated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as constituting a substantial level of physical impairment. 

Frequent physical distress is associated with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is also associated with smoking, obesity and physical inactivity.

Populations that experience a higher prevalence of frequent physical distress include:

  • Females compared with males.
  • Adults ages 65 and older compared with those ages 18-44. The prevalence is significantly higher with each increase in age group.
  • American Indian/Alaska Native and multiracial adults compared with Asian, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic and white adults. Asian adults have the lowest prevalence.
  • Adults with less than a high school education compared with college graduates.
  • Adults with an annual household income less than $25,000 compared with those with incomes of $75,000 or more. The prevalence is significantly lower with each increase in income level.
  • Adults who live in non-metropolitan areas compared with those who live in metropolitan areas. 
  • Adults with one or more chronic illnesses compared with those without chronic illnesses.

Strategies to reduce the prevalence of frequent physical distress include reducing the risk of developing chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and arthritis. This may be done by focusing on evidence-based interventions that curb smoking, increase physical activity and promote healthy eating.

Healthy People 2030 has an objective to reduce the proportion of adults with chronic pain that frequently limits life or work activities. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Strategies to Prevent Obesity and Other Chronic Diseases: The CDC Guide to Strategies to Increase the Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables.” Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011.

Chen, Han-Yang, Dennis J. Baumgardner, and Jessica P. Rice. “Health-Related Quality of Life among Adults with Multiple Chronic Conditions in the United States, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2007.” Preventing Chronic Disease 8, no. 1 (January 2011): A09.

Dwyer-Lindgren, Laura, Johan P. Mackenbach, Frank J. van Lenthe, and Ali H. Mokdad. “Self-Reported General Health, Physical Distress, Mental Distress, and Activity Limitation by US County, 1995-2012.” Population Health Metrics 15, no. 1 (April 26, 2017): 16.

Gamble, Sonya, Tebitha Mawokomatanda, Fang Xu, Pranesh P. Chowdhury, Carol Pierannunzi, David Flegel, William Garvin, and Machell Town. “Surveillance for Certain Health Behaviors and Conditions Among States and Selected Local Areas — Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, United States, 2013 and 2014.” MMWR. Surveillance Summaries 66, no. 16 (September 15, 2017): 1–144.

Shih, Margaret, and Paul A. Simon. “Health-Related Quality of Life among Adults with Serious Psychological Distress and Chronic Medical Conditions.” Quality of Life Research 17, no. 4 (May 1, 2008): 521–28.

Stellefson, Michael, Samantha R. Paige, Adam E. Barry, Min Qi Wang, and Avery Apperson. “Risk Factors Associated with Physical and Mental Distress in People Who Report a COPD Diagnosis: Latent Class Analysis of 2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Data.” International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 14 (April 2019): 809–22.


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