2010 Edition — Chronic Conditions of Californians

2007 California Health Interview Survey

Camillia Lui, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research
Steven Wallace, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research


Chronic health conditions are the leading cause of death and disability in the United States, and the largest component of health care costs. Chronic health conditions are defined as “non-communicable illnesses that are prolonged in duration, do not resolve spontaneously, and are rarely cured completely.” Nearly one in two American adults live with at least one chronic health condition such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, or diabetes. The impact of chronic health conditions also extends to children. The percentage of children and adolescents with a chronic illness in the United States has jumped from less than 2% in the 1960s to more than 7% in 2004. Health care for people with chronic health conditions make up more than 70% of the nation’s total annual health care costs.

To examine the current state of chronic health conditions among Californians, 2007 data from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) were used.

Key findings include:

  • Chronic Condition Indices. In 2007, one-third of California adults (36%) reported having at least one chronic health condition (including active asthma, CHF, diabetes, hypertension, or psychological distress). The proportion varied from 28% in Marin County to 49% in the Tehama/Glenn/Colusa County cluster. Among California children, 16% reported having at least one chronic health condition in 2007 (including active asthma or fair-to-poor health status). The proportion varied from 8% in the San Diego North Inland region to 23% in the Imperial County who reported having at least one chronic condition. After ranking counties according to their prevalence of chronic conditions, San Luis Obispo and Marin counties both ranked in the best two health groups for all seven chronic conditions. In contrast, Lake County fared worst, ranking in the bottom health group for all seven chronic conditions.
  • Adult Active Asthma. The statewide prevalence of active asthma was 8.1% among adults, yet the range varied from 4.9% in the San Diego North Coastal region to 19.1% in the Tehama/Glenn/Colusa County cluster.
  • Adult Congestive Heart Failure. The statewide prevalence of CHF was 1.8% among adults. The variation between county areas was 0.5% in Marin County to 4.3% in the Tuolumne/Calaveras/Amador/Inyo/Mariposa/Mono/Alpine County cluster.
  • Adult Diabetes. The statewide prevalence of diabetes was approximately 7.8% among adults. The variation between county areas was 3.8% in San Diego North Central region to 11.3% in Tulare County.
  • Adult Hypertension. The statewide prevalence of hypertension was approximately 26.1% among adults, which is the highest of all chronic conditions. The prevalence varied from 19.9% in Marin County to 37.3% in Lake County.
  • Adult Psychological Distress. The statewide prevalence of psychological distress was approximately 3.8% among adults. The range varied from Sonoma County at 1.0% to the Tehama/Glenn/Colusa County cluster at 8.7%.
  • Child Active Asthma (ages 1 to 17). The statewide prevalence of active asthma was 10.4% among children. The range varied from 4.7% in the San Diego North Inland region to 15.9% in the Del Norte/Siskiyou/Lassen/Trinity/Modoc/Plumas/Sierra County cluster.
  • Child Health Status (ages 0 to 17). The statewide prevalence of fair-to-poor health status was 6.8% among children. The range varied from 1.8% in Marin County to 15.1% in Monterey County.

The full report is available for download below. This material is part of CHCF’s California Health Care Almanac, an online clearinghouse for key data and analyses describing the state’s health care landscape. See our entire collection of current and past editions of Californians with Chronic Conditions.