Poll: Most Kentucky adults, especially the poor, say time, money and motivation make it hard to improve their health status

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Regardless of how Kentucky adults describe their health status, almost two-thirds of them said it would be difficult or very difficult to make positive changes in their health, citing time, money and motivation as their main barriers, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll.

The survey, conducted Sept. 17 through Oct. 7, found that 43 percent of Kentucky adults said they were in excellent or very good health, 26 percent said they were in good health and 31 percent said they were in fair or poor health. The poll’s error margin is plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.

Kentucky ranks 46th in the percentage of adults reporting excellent or very good health. Self-perception of health makes a difference. Research has found a “powerful link” between people’s self-reported health status and the predicted length and quality of their lives, says the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati, which took the poll.

When asked to name the “most important” thing they could do to improve their health status by one level, the answers varied by the respondents’ current health status.

For example, those who reported excellent, very good or good health said they needed to exercise more and improve their diet to improve their health by one status. But those who reported fair or poor health most commonly cited taking care of current health problems and a need for better access to health care as the best ways to improve their health by one status.

“Kentucky adults understand that more exercise and a healthier diet can help them get healthier,” stated Susan Zepeda, CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, said in a news release. “We can support better health for all Kentuckians by making changes in our built environment to make exercise easier, supporting access to fruits and vegetables, and continuing to offer all Kentuckians health insurance.”

Adults with lower incomes were more likely to report difficulty in making a positive health change, according to the report.

While 65 percent of Kentucky adults said it would be difficult or very difficult to make the health change they had identified, this rate was a bit higher (71 percent) among those who made 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level. Among those who made more than 200 percent of the FPL, 61 percent said so. Only about one-third (32 percent) of Kentucky adults said it would be easy or very easy to make these changes.

The poll is funded by the foundation and Interact for Health, formerly the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati. It surveyed a random sample of 1,608 Kentucky adults by both landlines and cell phones.

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