(LOUISVILLE, Ky – June 8, 2016) One in three Kentucky adults living in the 46-county Eastern Kentucky reported that friends or family members have had problems resulting from prescription pain reliever abuse, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP). Eastern Kentuckians are slightly less likely to be uninsured than the state as a whole. Most adults in Eastern Kentucky find it difficult to make a personal health change needed to improve their health (70 percent Eastern Kentucky; 65 percent statewide).

In addition, people living in Eastern Kentucky fall in line with other Kentuckians in strongly favoring tobacco-free school campuses (85 percent statewide, 83 percent for Eastern Kentucky), a statewide smoke-free law (66 percent statewide; 64 percent Eastern Kentucky), and increasing to 21 the minimum legal age to buy tobacco products (60 percent statewide, 63 percent Eastern Kentucky).

“Overall, what we’re finding with these reports is that an increasing number of Kentuckians have health insurance, but many are still delaying or simply can’t afford necessary health care,” said Susan Zepeda, President/CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. “We also see growing support for smoke-free policies across the Commonwealth. Kentucky adults in every region recognize that improving diet, getting more exercise and quitting smoking could help improve personal health, but the changes are difficult. Policies around these areas could help all Kentuckians improve their personal health.”

The Foundation and Cincinnati-based Interact for Health fund the annual KHIP poll. The findings, divided into five regional reports (Eastern Kentucky, Greater Lexington, Greater Louisville, Northern Kentucky, and Western Kentucky) are now available online at www.healthy-ky.org.

“Local public health officials, health coalitions and other community leaders find these regionalized opinion polls extremely useful in moving forward with their plans to improve Kentucky’s health,” Zepeda said.

Among the findings in the Eastern Kentucky KHIP report:

  • 85 percent of Kentuckians (and 83 percent of the Eastern Kentucky populace) favor tobacco-free campus policies for schools, while just 29 percent of Kentucky’s school districts have adopted such policies;
  • 66 percent of Kentuckians (64 percent of Eastern Kentucky) favor a statewide law prohibiting smoking in most public places;
  • Opinion regarding increasing the excise tax on a pack of cigarettes by $1 is split (39 percent of the Eastern Kentucky population favors the tax and 58 percent oppose it, compared to 45 percent of Kentuckians overall in favor and 51 percent opposed);
  • A majority support increasing to 21 the minimum age to buy tobacco products (63 percent of the Eastern Kentucky population, 60 percent of Kentuckians overall, in favor);
  • 83 percent of Kentuckians (85 percent the Eastern Kentucky population) say reducing the cost of health care is a key issue for elected officials;
    Similarly, 81 percent of the entire Commonwealth and 86 percent of Eastern Kentucky respondents consider improving the health of Kentuckians an important issue for elected officials;
  • 8 percent of Eastern Kentucky adults were uninsured compared to 13 percent of Kentuckians overall, and 31 percent of Eastern Kentucky households had trouble paying medical bills, compared to 28 percent of Kentucky households overall;
  • 27 percent of Eastern Kentucky adults reported a person in their household delayed or did not get needed medical care because of the cost (20 percent for Kentuckians overall);
  • The Eastern Kentucky population reported similar opinions regarding the Affordable Care Act (42 percent favorable) to that of the state (41 percent favorable) and 49 percent said the law had no impact on them (50 percent of Kentuckians overall);
  • Heroin use has caused problems for 10 percent of the Eastern Kentucky populations’ family members and friends, compared to 13 percent of Kentucky inhabitants statewide; and
  • 40 percent of the Eastern Kentucky population reports “very good” or “excellent” health, compared to 43 percent of their counterparts statewide.

The poll was conducted Sept. 17, 2015, through Oct. 7, 2015, by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati. A random sample of 1,608 adults from throughout Kentucky was interviewed by telephone, including landlines and cell phones. The poll has a margin of error of ±2.4 percent (Eastern Kentucky ±5.5 percent). The associated complete KHIP data file, codebook and survey instrument will be posted by June 30 at http://www.oasisdataarchive.org/) alongside other KHIP data files from previous years.

About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky

Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested over $26 million in health policy research, advocacy and pilot project grants across the Commonwealth. Funded by an endowment, the mission of the Foundation is to address the unmet health care needs of Kentuckians by informing and influencing health policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Follow the Foundation on Twitter and on Facebook, or visit our website at www.healthy-ky.org.

Media Contacts:

Bonnie J. Hackbarth

Angela Koch