(LOUISVILLE, Ky – June 8, 2016) — Kentuckians living in the 42-county Western Kentucky region are less likely than their counterparts across the Commonwealth to report that friends or family members have problems resulting from prescription pain reliever abuse, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP). But while they’re also less likely to delay or forgo health care because of the cost, a similar percentage report difficulty paying their medical bills.

In addition, adults living in Western Kentucky fall in line with other Kentuckians in strongly favoring tobacco-free school campuses (85 percent statewide, 86 percent for Western Kentucky) and a statewide smoke-free law (66 percent statewide; 65 percent Western Kentucky). Most thought that it would be difficult or very difficult to make the personal changes necessary to improve their health (65 percent statewide, 59 percent for Western 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 Western Kentucky KHIP report:
  • 85 percent of Kentuckians (and 86 percent of the Western 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 (65 percent of Western 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 (43 percent of the Western Kentucky population favors the tax and 53 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 (59 percent of the Western Kentucky population, 60 percent of Kentuckians overall, in favor);
  • 83 percent of Kentuckians (85 percent the Western Kentucky population) say reducing the cost of health care is a key issue for elected officials;
    Similarly, 81 percent of both the entire Commonwealth and of Western Kentucky respondents consider improving the health of Kentuckians an important issue for elected officials;
  • 8 percent of Western Kentucky adults were uninsured compared to 13 percent of Kentuckians overall, and 25 percent of Western Kentucky households had trouble paying medical bills, compared to 28 percent of Kentucky households overall;
  • 14 percent of Western 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 Western Kentucky population reported opinions regarding the Affordable Care Act (38 percent favorable) similar to that of the state (41 percent favorable) and 51 percent said the law had no impact on them (50 percent of Kentuckians overall);
  • Heroin use has caused problems for 8 percent of the Western Kentucky populations’ family members or friends, compared to 13 percent of Kentucky inhabitants statewide; and
  • 45 percent of the Western 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 (Western 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