Widening Appalachian Health Disparities Study released

A study published in the August 2017 issue of Health Affairs found that the infant mortality rate in Appalachia is 16 percent higher than in the rest of the country, and that the life expectancy for Appalachians is 2.4 years shorter than for those living elsewhere in the United States.

Both gaps have widened since 1990; there was no statistical difference in the infant mortality rate between Appalachia and the nation in 1990-1992, and the life expectancy gap was only 0.6 years at that time.

Study authors attribute much of the difference to persistent or increasing disparities in general living standards and health-risk behaviors such as adult smoking, smoking during pregnancy, obesity, physical inactivity and heavy consumption of alcohol. The study can be found online at http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/36/8/1423.abstract.