NR449 Chamberlain College Demographic and Epidemiological Assessment

NR449 Chamberlain College Demographic and Epidemiological Assessment

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Dear Professor and Class,

I live in the small rural town of Cortland, IL with a mere 4200 people. Honestly, I really love living here because it has that small town feel that is only minutes from DeKalb, IL that has all the amenities my family needs such as shopping, restaurants, physicians, and so forth without being in the thick of things. We have two gas stations, one Dollar General store, a car wash, a café, and one pizza joint. Mostly, it’s families out walking, children playing, and people living their lives.

My town was not an option on the U.S. Census Bureau (2018) page, so I inputted DeKalb County, as well as, the town of DeKalb, IL, since that is just minutes from my home and where my family spends a lot of time. The variances between the town versus county was very interesting in the areas of age range and ethnicity, but not overly significant. What was significant was the percentage of people living in poverty within DeKalb versus DeKalb county was shocking. While the percentage of persons living in poverty within DeKalb county was slightly higher than the national average at 14.1% versus 12.3%, within DeKalb as a town, it is 30.8% (U.S. Census Bureau, 2018)! Almost a third of the town’s population lives in poverty, which in turn drives the county poverty stats up by 2% over the national average. If you were to drive through DeKalb, this is not overtly evident.

Poverty in the United States (U.S.) affects African Americans and Hispanics almost three times more than whites. 9.9% of whites compared to 26.6% of Hispanics and 27.4% of African Americans living in poverty (The State of Working America, 2019). Such a high level of poverty within DeKalb (the town) versus DeKalb county is a reflection of the higher percentage of a minority population living within the town, instead of living in the many small, farming towns and villages that surround DeKalb. The Hispanic population within the town is 13.0% and African American at 14.0% versus the rest of the county that is predominately white (U.S. Census Bureau, 2018). The higher percentage of poverty within DeKalb is what pushes the county numbers to be 2% higher than the national average.

The population of persons 65 years or older within town is half of what the national average is, but this should not be surprising considering there is state university right in the center town. Even children under 18 is less than the national average. DeKalb is almost 12% higher than the national average of 61.6% of persons between 18-64 years of age. Not surprisingly, this town has a 6% higher graduation rate from high school and 7% higher prevalence of having a bachelor’s degree or higher than the national rate. While the county’s high school graduation rate matched the high marks of the town, the prevalence of having a bachelor’s degree or higher was that same as the national average (U.S. Census Bureau, 2018).

The average cost of a home within DeKalb county is almost $44,000 less than the national average but the overall mortgage/cost of living is nearly the same. The only way this adds up in my head is that the taxes in DeKalb and DeKalb county must be much higher than the national average. Rent is only an average of $100 higher.

If a community health nurse (CHN) were to review this data on DeKalb, either as a town or as a county, the two factors that stand out the most would be the higher percentage of persons between 18-64 and the high poverty level. A CHN will “use epidemiological concepts to improve the health of population groups by identifying risk factors and optimal approaches that reduce disease risk and promote health” (Nies, 2019, pg. 70). In this case, alcohol, drugs, smoking, and sexually transmitted disease (STD) statistics would be the very first area of priority health problems this nurse would investigate, since this is a college town full of young adults. Utilizing the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps (2018) website, I was surprised to see that adults that smoked was only 1% higher than the average county in Illinois at 17% and drug-related deaths were 11 to every 100,000 which is somewhat lower than the state average of 18. The areas that were significantly higher and worth intervening were the prevalence of STD’s with 575 people affected out of every 100,000 which is three times higher than top performing counties and higher than the state average (County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, 2018). Excessive drinking in DeKalb county is almost 50% higher than the top performing counties at 24% of adults reporting binge or heavy drinking and that is 2% higher than the state average (County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, 2018). These two issues go hand-in-hand since people tend to make poor decisions when binge drinking and more likely to participate in high-risk behaviors (McCutcheon, 2017). Additionally, those in poverty have a higher prevalence to misuse alcohol to cope, and this unsound coping skill goes beyond young adulthood for many African Americans who face poverty well past their thirties (Lui & Mulia, 2018).

Eileen Morlan


County Health Rankings and Roadmaps. (2018). Explore rankings. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)

Lui, C.K., & Mulia, N. (2018). Poverty, lack of education & alcohol problems. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)

McCutcheon, V. (2017, November 29). Alcohol use as a high-risk health behavior. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)

Nies, M. A., & McEwen, M. (2019). Community/Public Health Nursing: Promoting the Health of Populations(7th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Saunders/Elsevier.

The State of Working America. (2019). Poverty. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)

U.S. Census Bureau. (2018). State and county QuickFacts. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)

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