A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Stressed out? Most of you report high levels for Interact for Health’s Community Health Status Survey

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For the 2017 Community Health Status Survey (CHSS), sponsored by Interact for Health, area adults were asked to rate their average level of stress during the past month on a scale of 1 – 10.

Two in 10 adults (20 percent) reported a high level of stress (rating of 8, 9 or 10).

This is the same as the national results found by the American Psychological Association in 2016 (20 percent).

In our region, 5 in 10 adults (50 percent) reported a moderate level of stress (rating of 4, 5, 6 or 7), and 3 in 10 (29 percent) reported a low level of stress (rating of 1, 2 or 3). Adults in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties reported similar results to the region overall, with 2 in 10 adults reporting a high level of stress. More adults in Bracken, Carroll, Gallatin, Owen and Pendleton counties reported a high level of stress, with 27 percent reporting a rating of 8 to 10, compared with 20 percent in the region overall.

Stress is a normal part of life. It may be short-term (acute), caused by situations such as a presentation or a big test. Stress may also be long-term (chronic), caused by situations such as extended unemployment or a long illness. Stress is the way the body reacts to these stimuli by releasing hormones, increasing heart rate and tensing muscles.

“High levels of stress over time can negatively affect a person’s health,” says O’dell Moreno Owens, M.D., M.P.H., President/CEO of Interact for Health. “When many individuals have high stress levels, it can affect the overall health of a community. We need to work together to help our community find healthy ways to reduce and manage stress.”

CHSS also asked what respondents would consider a healthy level of stress.

More than half (55 percent) thought a low level of 1 to 3 was healthy. More than 4 in 10 adults (42 percent) thought a moderate level of 4 to 7 was healthy. Only 2 percent of adults thought a high level of 8 to 10 was healthy.

Adults in Bracken, Carroll, Gallatin, Owen and Pendleton counties reported similar results. More adults in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties report that a level of 8 to 10 was a healthy level of stress (3 percent compared to 2 percent in the region overall).
 
Higher stress reported by women, those with lower income or poor health

Some groups in the region were more likely to report high stress levels. More than 2 in 10 women (24 percent) reported high levels of stress compared with fewer than 2 in 10 men (17 percent).

Nearly 4 in 10 adults earning 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG)* or less reported high stress levels (38 percent). This compares with more than 2 in 10 adults earning between 100% and 200% FPG (24 percent) and fewer than 2 in 10 adults earning more than 200% FPG (16 percent).

Stress levels also varied by self-reported health status. Among adults reporting fair or poor health, nearly 4 in 10 reported high levels of stress (39 percent). This compares with 2 in 10 adults who reported good health (21 percent) and about 1 in 10 adults who reported excellent or very good health (14 percent).
 
Most do good job managing stress; varies by income, health status

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, taking practical steps to manage stress can reduce or prevent its negative health impacts. These steps can include exercise, social connection, mindfulness, relaxation or help from a health care provider. (For more information, see www.nimh.nih.gov/findhelp.) 

CHSS asked respondents how good a job they did in managing their stress. Nearly 8 in 10 adults (78 percent) said they did an excellent, very good or good job managing stress. About 2 in 10 adults (22 percent) said they did a fair or poor job managing stress. Adults in Northern Kentucky reported similar results to the region overall.

Adults with lower income were less likely to report managing stress well. Fewer than 7 in 10 adults earning 100% FPG or less (68 percent) said they did an excellent, very good or good job managing their stress. This compares with nearly 8 in 10 adults earning between 100% and 200% FPG (77 percent) and more than 8 in 10 adults earning more than 200% FPG (82 percent).

Adults in fair or poor health were also less likely to report managing stress well. About 6 in 10 adults (62 percent) in fair or poor health said they did an excellent, very good or good job managing stress. This compares with nearly 8 in 10 adults (77 percent) in good health, and more than 8 in 10 adults in excellent or very good health (85 percent).

More information about Greater Cincinnati adults’ perception and management of stress, and other topics, is available online at the website.

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