Author(s): Ely GE, Miller K, Dignan M
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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.
This article was published in Soc Work Health Care
and referenced in Journal of Gerontology & Geriatric Research