Mortality Disparities in Appalachia: Reassessment of Major Risk Factors


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Abstract

Objective:To determine the predictive value of coal mining and other risk factors for explaining disproportionately high mortality rates across Appalachia.Method:Mortality and covariate data were obtained from publicly available databases for 2000 to 2004. Analysis employed ordinary least square multiple linear regression with age-adjusted mortality as the dependent variable.Results:Age-adjusted all-cause mortality was independently related to Poverty Rate, Median Household Income, Percent High School Graduates, Rural–Urban Location, Obesity, Sex, and Race/Ethnicity, but not Unemployment Rate, Percent Uninsured, Percent College Graduates, Physician Supply, Smoking, Diabetes, or Coal Mining.Conclusions:Coal mining is not per se an independent risk factor for increased mortality in Appalachia. Nevertheless, our results underscore the substantial economic and cultural disadvantages that adversely impact health in Appalachia, especially in the coal-mining areas of Central Appalachia.

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