NCMJ: Improving Life Expectancy in North Carolina

Blog | September 22, 2022


As the United States faces a historic drop in life expectancy, the September/October issue of the North Carolina Medical Journal features recommendations for improving longevity and well-being for all North Carolinians—and all Americans—regardless of race, gender, class, or geography. The issue features commentaries from 22 North Carolina researchers and practitioners on major contributors to premature death, such as infant mortality, cardiovascular disease, motor vehicle injuries, child fatalities, social drivers, overdose, and incarceration.   

“While the data are clearly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the disparities in the data tell a disheartening story about the health and well-being of the population,” writes issue guest editor ClarLynda Williams-DeVane, senior deputy director of the NC Division of Public Health. “Differences in life expectancy between racial and other subgroups of the population indicate inequities in the community.”

Click the links below to read each article in the issue, the last in a series related to Healthy North Carolina 2030.

Issue Brief

Infant Mortality and Life Expectancy: The Inequitable Loss of Potential Life by ClarLynda Williams-DeVane, PhD


Data & Trends

Examining the Intersection of Life Expectancy and Social Vulnerability by Locality by Willysha Jenkins, MS; Courtney Jacks, MS; Katherine Tyrlik

Place-based Differences in Life Expectancy by Margaret M. Sugg, PhD; Lauren M. Andersen, MA; Jennifer D. Runkle, PhD, MSPH

Back to the Future: Reflecting on Three Decades of Healthy North Carolina Infant Mortality Goals by Kathleen Jones-Vessey, MS; Sarah McCracken Cobb, MPH


Policies & Programs

North Carolina’s 2022-2026 Perinatal Health Strategic Plan: Addressing Perinatal Health Inequities Across the Life-Course by Jessica Landes Johnson, MPH; Sarah McCracken Cobb, MPH; Belinda Pettiford, MPH

The Fourth Trimester: Promising Possibilities through Postpartum Medicaid Coverage Expansion by Carmen M. Avram, MD, OBGYN; Jonas J. Swartz, MD, MPH

The North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force: Advancing Public Policy to Save Children’s Lives Since 1991 by Kella Hatcher, JD

We Must Do Better: Addressing High Mortality After Release from Incarceration by Anna Baker, MPH; Evan A. Ashkin, MD; David L. Rosen, MD, PhD



Challenges and Opportunities in Reversing Concerning Trends in Cardiovascular Disease and Life Expectancy by Melanie G. Phelps, JD; Manesh R. Patel, MD; Tiffany Gholston



Demystifying ‘Deaths of Despair’: An Interview with Medical Anthropologist Dr. Jennifer J. Carroll by Kaitlin Ugolik Phillips, MS

The Path to Better Cardiovascular Health in North Carolina: An Interview with a Family Physician and Lipidologist by Kaitlin Ugolik Phillips, MS


Running the Numbers

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Disparities in Motor Vehicle Traffic Deaths and Injuries among North Carolina American Indians by Shana Geary, MPH; Scott Proescholdbell, MPH; Mary E. Cox, MPH; Ronny Bell, PhD, MS