A Case Study of Health Risk Behaviors in a Sample of Residents in Rural Appalachia

Gretchen E Ely, Chris Flaherty, Patricia G Cook-Craig, Mark B Dignan, Carol R White, Sandy Good, Shelli Deskins


The purpose of this paper was to examine health risk behaviors from a sample of adults living in one of the nation’s poorest counties in Central Appalachia. A descriptive secondary analysis of data collected for a public health surveillance project was conducted to determine the most pressing health problems and risk behaviors affecting this unique population. Residents reported high rates of hypertension, back pain, and sleep problems. They also reported very low levels of physical activity. A discussion of results is provided, including a comparison of the study population to information from national surveys. The limitations of the study and implications for social work practice, policy and research are also discussed.

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