A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Community Health Status Survey: Higher income, better education have strong connection to health

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The first analysis of results from the 2017 Community Health Status Survey (CHSS) has found that about 5 in 10 adults in the Greater Cincinnati region (49 percent) report excellent or very good health.

Research has made a strong and powerful link between a person’s response to this question and their predicted length and quality of life.

These results are slightly lower than they were when the survey was last done in 2013. The percentage of adults reporting excellent or very good health has remained about the same since 2002, both in the region and across the nation.

Adults in Northern Kentucky were less likely to report excellent or very good health than adults across the region, 43 percent versus 49 percent across the region. 

This important indicator of general health was adopted as one of Greater Cincinnati’s Bold Goals in health in 2011.

“A large gap remains between the self-reported health of adults in the region and the Bold Goal that 70 percent of the community will report having excellent or very good health,” says Ross Meyer, senior vice president of community impact for United Way of Greater Cincinnati. “It is clear that as a community we have much work to do, especially for people living in poverty. To that end, we are partnering with Interact for Health and other community organizations in initiatives designed to reduce these disparities and move us closer to the goal.”

“Many factors affect an individual’s health status,” says O’dell M. Owens, M.D., M.P.H., President/CEO of Interact for Health. “However, it is known that certain factors, such as a higher income and better education, have a clear and strong relationship to health.”
 
People in poverty report being less healthy

Fewer than 3 in 10 adults living at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG) (28 percent) report excellent or very good health. This compares with nearly 5 in 10 adults (48 percent) living between 100% and 200% FPG and nearly 6 in 10 adults (56 percent) living above 200% FPG. This disparity has been consistent in our community for more than a decade and is true in many communities across the country. These findings match national and international work that has identified economic stability and education as some of the key social factors that influence health.

Being active, staying healthy. (Photo from Interact for Health)


 Education a factor in very good or excellent health

“Adults with at least a college degree are more than twice as likely as adults who did not finish high school to report excellent or very good health,” says Dr. Owens. Nearly 7 in 10 adults with a college degree or higher (66 percent) report excellent or very good health. Only a little more than 2 in 10 with less than a high school education (24 percent) report excellent or very good health, a decline since 2013 (29 percent). “This underlines the importance of the Bold Goal that 85 percent of our youth will graduate from high school,” says Meyer.
 
Age and self-reported health linked

Age is also a factor in self-reported health. Six in 10 adults age 18 to 29 (60 percent) report excellent or very good health. This compares with 5 in 10 adults age 30 to 45 (50 percent), more than 4 in 10 adults age 46 to 64 (45 percent) and 4 in 10 adults age 65 and older (40 percent). While adults age 18 to 29 reported the best health of any age group, the number reporting excellent or very good health decreased since 2013, from 69 to 60 percent.

More information about the health of adults in our region in relation to education, wealth and age, and other topics, is available online at www.interactforhealth.org/community-health-status-survey.
 
The 2017 Community Health Status Survey (CHSS) was conducted by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati for Interact for Health. A total of 4,261 randomly selected adults residing in eight Ohio counties, nine Kentucky counties, and five Indiana counties were interviewed by telephone between August 10, 2016, and March 8, 2017.

This included 1,906 landline interviews and 2,355 cell phone interviews. The potential sampling error for the overall survey data is ±1.5%. For more information about the CHSS and a list of community partners, please visit www.interactforhealth.org/community-health-status-survey. 

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