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Frequent Physical Distress

Those experiencing frequent physical distress are more likely to have a chronic condition and may not be able to engaging in everyday activities. More inclusive spaces that maximize accessibility and provide areas for rest may help to improve both the mental and physical comfort of people living with physical distress.


Frequent physical distress is highly linked with having chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, and arthritis, as well as health behavior risk factors, such as physical inactivity, binge drinking, and smoking. Physical debility that accompanies such chronic conditions can affect all aspects of life and often results in psychological/mental distress.

Human Health Mechanism

Physical distress is an aversive, negative state in which chronic conditions cause one significant discomfort, pain, or inability to engage in everyday activities. This could manifest in difficulty breathing, mobility limitations, nausea/vomiting, migraines, etc.

Indicator Measurement

Data are available through the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) PLACES public dashboard and are collected from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), which is a state-based, telephone interview survey. BRFSS provides the prevalence of frequent physical distress by modeling the percentage of adults who report 14 or more days during the past 30 days during which their physical health was not good.

Related Health Outcomes & Exposures

Obesity, Physical Inactivity, PM2.5, Extreme Heat, Food Insecurity, High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease, Physical Disability, Not Enough Sleep Hours, Greenness, Walkability


Click here for References
  1. Frequent Physical Distress Data Source: CDC PLACES: Physical Distress. Data year 2020. Accessed April 2023.
  2. CDC PLACES: Measure Definitions: Health Status: Physical Health Not Good. Published November 8, 2021. Accessed November 10, 2023.
  3. Dean E, Söderlund A. What is the role of lifestyle behaviour change associated with non-communicable disease risk in managing musculoskeletal health conditions with special reference to chronic pain?. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2015;16:87. Published 2015 Apr 13. doi:10.1186/s12891-015-0545-y
  4. Viertiö S, Kiviruusu O, Piirtola M, et al. Factors Contributing to Psychological Distress in the Working population, with a Special Reference to Gender Difference. BMC Public Health. 2021;21(1). doi: