Parent and Child Health in Appalachia Ohio: A Geographical Comparison

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The Ohio State University

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Interpersonal and extra-personal factors such as one’s family health behaviors, lower educational levels, and lack of pediatric health care resources place children living within Appalachia Ohio at increased risk for environmental exposures that lead to poor health outcomes. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of parent health and behaviors on child health in 3 designated sub-regions of Appalachia Ohio: East Central, South East, and Southern. Specific aims were to determine if parent health was related to child diabetes and if parent smoking status was related to child asthma. This study was a secondary data analysis of the 2008 Ohio Family Health Survey (OFHS), which was a statewide random digit dial telephone survey of over 50,000 Ohio residents. Survey respondents were parents describing own health and their child’s health. The sample was 2954 un-weighted parent-child pairs residing in one of Ohio’s 29 Appalachian counties. A subset of data was utilized from the Parent Health and Child Health Questionnaires. Data were analyzed by descriptive inferential statistics, correlations, and ANOVA for group comparisons. Results show that parent BMI was not related to child diabetes (r = -.030) and child BMI was not related to child diabetes (r = .001). Parent smoking status was not related to the prevalence of child asthma (r = -.027). In all regions, child diabetes was positively related to child asthma (r = .074). Parent smoking prevalence was also related to severity of childhood asthma (r = .286). Differences were found based on sub-region. Children with the highest BMI resided in the South East sub-region (F = 3.51, p = .03). This study suggests challenges to healthy living may differ within Appalachia. Family-based and tailored community-level interventions are needed to improve health outcomes of children residing in Appalachia Ohio.



Appalachia, child health, parent health, rural health, child obesity