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The Delaware Behavioral Risk Factor Survey (BRFS) asks a series of questions about chronic diseases, to assess the public health impact of these conditions.
Hypertension and high blood cholesterol, both of which affect more than a third of the state's adult population, are the most prevalent chronic conditions. Depresesive disorders—which include depression, major depression, and dysthemia—affect about one in every five Delaware adults.
The BRFS asks respondents if they have ever been diagnosed with a depressive disorder, including depression, major depression, dysthemia, or minor depression. In 2021, 16.4 percent of Delaware adults said yes, they had been told by a doctor they had a depressive disorder. Women were more likely to report a depressive disorder (20.5 percent) than men (11.8 percent), and that difference is statistically significant.
There were no statistically significant differences by age, gender, or educational level. However, non-Hispanic whites had a significantly higher prevalence than any other racial or ethnic group. Adults in the lowest income ranges had the highest levels of depressive disorders.
Two questions were asked about asthma: 1) Have you ever been told by a doctor or health professional that you have asthma, and 2) Do you still have asthma? About 13.9 percent of Delaware adults reported in 2021 that they had "ever been told" they had asthma.
When the two questions are combined, the "current asthma" prevalence for 2021 is 9.8 percent of the state's adult population. Another 3.6 percent of adults report formerly have asthma. Current asthma is slightly more common among adult women (12.6 percent) than men (6.9 percent). Current asthma is also higher among Black adults (13.5 percent) than among white (9.1 percent).
For more information about asthma in Delaware, read our report on The Burden of Asthma in Delaware, revised in March of 2017.
In 2021, about 6.2 percent of Delaware adults reported having been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, or chronic bronchitis. There were no significant differences by gender or race/ethnicity, but the risk of these lung conditions increased with age among Delaware adults ages 55-64, 8 percent reported having COPD, compared to 12.2 percent among older adults (over age 65).
The BRFS asks respondents if they have ever been told they had skin cancer, and in 2021 7.9 percent of Delaware adults reported having been diagnosed with skin cancer. Like many of the other chronic conditions, skin cancer is age-related. Less than 1.3 percent of respondents under age 45 reported a diagnosis of skin cancer, compared to 9.4 percent of adults age 55-64, and 20.4 percent of adults 65 and older. Prevalence of skin cancer was highest among non-Hispanic white respondents (12.0percent), compared to less than 1 percent of Black or Hispanic/Latino adults.
About 7.8 percent of Delaware adults reported that they had been told they had another type of cancer.
In 2021, 4.0 percent of Delaware adults reported having had a stroke. During the period from 2011 through 2021, the prevalence of reporting "ever having a stroke" has stayed approximately the same, fluctuating between 3.2 percent and 4.0 percent. As age increases, so does the risk of having a stroke. Delaware adults with a disability were more likely to report ever having a stroke, compared to adults without a disability. Delaware adults with hypertension were more likely to report ever having a stroke, compared to those reporting normal blood pressure.
There were no significant differences in prevalence of "ever had a stroke" by gender or race/ethnicity. However, Delaware adults with lower educational levels and lower incomes had higher prevalence of stroke than did adults with higher education and income.
In 2021, 7.1 percent of Delaware adults reported that they had been diagnosed with coronary heart disease (CHD) or they had a myocardial infarction (heart attack). Men reported having a higher prevalence of having coronary heart disease or having had a myocardial infarction than women (8.6 percent vs 5.7 percent). Age was a significant factor for increased burden of cardiovascular disease. Less than 1 percent of young adults reported ever having a heart attack or CHD, compared with 10.6 percent of adults age 55-64, and 14.9 percent of those ages 65 and older. This does not provide the total impact of heart disease and heart attacks, because the survey only includes survivors of heart attacks.
According to the 2021 BRFS, 4.7 percent of Delaware’s adult population were diagnosed with coronary heart disease or angina. There has been no significant change in this number over the previous five years. As age increases, so does the risk of developing coronary heart disease or angina.
In 2021, 36.2 percent (about 288,000 people) of Delaware residents ages 18 and older reported they had been told by a health care professional that they have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.
More details about hypertension are available on our separate BRFS report on the 2019 data.
In 2021, 37.7 percent of Delaware residents ages 18 years and older reported they had been diagnosed with high blood cholesterol. That means that an estimated 260,000 Delaware adults know they have high cholesterol.
More details about high blood cholesterol are available on our separate BRFS report on the 2021 data.
In 2021, about one-fourth of the adult population in Delaware (27.3 percent) reported having been diagnosed with arthritis. Women had a significantly higher prevalence of arthritis (31.9 percent) than men (22.2 percent). Non-Hispanic White adults had a significantly higher prevalence (32.0 percent) than Non-Hispanic Black adults (24.2 percent).
As would be expected, the prevalence of arthritis increases dramatically with age. While only 15.9 percent of 35-44 year-old adults reported having been diagnosed with arthritis, the prevalence increases steadily with age. About 25.4 percent of 45-54 year-old adults reported arthritis, and the prevalence increased to 37.6 percent among 55-64 year-olds, and 48.5 percent among Delawareans age 65 and older.
In 2021, the BRFS asked if their arthritis limited their ability to participate in usual activities. About 11.2 percent of Delaware adults reported that they had been diagnosed with arthritis and it limited their usual activities. About 8.3 percent of Delaware adults said their arthritis limited their ability to work.
The 2021 survey asked if respondents had ever been told they have kidney disease, not including kidney stones, bladder infections, or incontinence. Slightly more than 3.9 percent of Delaware adults reported having been diagnosed at some time with kidney disease. The prevalence was identical for men and women, and there were no significant differences by race/ethnicity. Age was a significant factor, with kidney disease prevalence at about 3.6 percent of the population under age 45, but rising to 5.5 percent among adults age 55-64 and 7.4 percent among those 65 and older.