Appalachia; Social Determinants; Environment; Disparities


Public Health


Background. Appalachia is a region of the United States that faces significant environmental and health disparities. Understanding these disparities and the social determinants that contribute to them will help public health practitioners make better decisions. The purpose of this research is two-fold. First, through secondary data analysis, we document environmental and health disparities as well as demographic and economic conditions that may contribute to these disparities between Appalachian and non-Appalachian Ohio. Second, we examine perceptions of environmental health practitioners about the differences in environmental conditions between Appalachian and non-Appalachian Ohio.

Methods. We gathered secondary data about economics, health, and the environment from the Ohio Department of Health, Healthy Ohio Community Profiles, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Census. In addition, we conducted an online survey of 76 environmental health professionals across Ohio.

Results. The secondary data indicates that there are significant differences between Appalachian and non-Appalachian Ohio in terms of socioeconomic, health, and environmental indicators. In addition, environmental health professionals perceive worse environmental conditions in the Appalachian region and indicate that there are environmental and health disparities found in this part of the state that do not exist elsewhere.

Conclusions. The results contribute to understanding environmental and health conditions that contribute to health disparities in the Appalachian region as well as suggest approaches for public health practitioners to reduce these disparities.

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