The disconnect between perceptions of health and measures of health in a rural appalachian sample: Implications for public health social workers

Gretchen E. Ely, Kim Miller, Mark Dignan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study compared perceived and objective health status among a population with elevated risk of chronic disease in rural, Appalachian Kentucky, in order to inform the practice efforts of public health social workers. Cross-sectional data were collected from a sample of 203 adults recruited through a mailed invitation. The participants ranged in age from 20 to 93 (M = 50.8, SD = 13.5), 115 (56.7%) and nearly all were Caucasian, reflecting the demographic composition of the population of the area. Although 75% of the study population was overweight or obese, over 60% perceived their health status as good, very good, or excellent. Less than half reported engaging in physical exercise, and only 25% reported eating at most one serving of fruits or vegetables in the past week. The results suggest clear discrepancies between perceived health status and objective indicators of health risks in the study sample. Public health social workers who provide health education and advocacy for this population will need to consider these discrepancies when developing practice approaches for individuals residing in this and other similar communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292-304
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Work in Health Care
Volume50
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Community and Home Care
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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