Health poll breakdown shows regional differences on drugs, syringe exchanges, statewide smoking ban, dental care

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky has released regional breakdowns of the Kentucky Health Issues Poll, which was conducted last fall. Each breakdown outlines respondents’ answers to various questions and compares regional responses to statewide findings.

The poll focused on substance and tobacco use, access to health care, and issues around health insurance. The responses were comparable across the state as a whole, but there were a few key differences in each of the regional breakdowns.

Eastern Kentucky: About 22 percent of Kentuckians live in this 46-county region where fewer adults reported having dental insurance (53%) than the rest of the state (60%)  and more of them (34%) reported that they or a member of their household delayed needed dental care in the past year due to cost compared to the rest of the state (26%).

More adults in Eastern Kentucky also reported that they had family members or friends with a prescription-drug problem (38%) than adults statewide (30%) or a methamphetamine problem (29%, vs. 22% statewide).

They were also less likely to support a statewide smoking ban, with only 59% of them favoring such a ban compared to 66% statewide. And more of them opposed syringe exchanges for intravenous drug users, to control the spread of disease, than in the rest of the state: 48% and 40% respectively.

Greater Lexington: This 17-county region, which has about 18% of the state’s population, had one big difference from the state as a whole: support of syringe exchanges. Fifty-seven percent of adults in the region supported them, compared to 49% statewide.

Greater Louisville: This seven-county region, with 23% of the state’s population, had the most adults reporting that they had dental insurance, at 71%. Concurrently, it had fewer adults delaying needed dental care due to cost (19%) compared to the statewide number of 26%.

The poll found more adults in Louisville supported a statewide smoking ban than the state as a whole, 76% and 66% respectively; and more support syringe exchanges, at 59% compared to 49% statewide.

Among those who said they knew a friend or family member with a drug problem, more in Louisville reported that they did not enter treatment compared to the rest of the state: 55% and 44%, respectively.

Northern Kentucky: The poll found that the 10% of Kentuckians living in this eight-county region were more likely to knew someone who used heroin compared to the rest of the state (36% and 20%, respectively) and to know of someone with a drug problem who had entered treatment because others had intervened (55%, compared to 36% statewide).

Northern Kentuckians were about evenly divided on syringe exchanges, with 46% of them favoring and 43% opposing such programs. Because of the poll’s error margin, that is no statistical difference.

Western KentuckyAbout 27% of Kentuckians live in this 42-county region. Their knowledge of someone who had experienced problems with heroin was less than the rest of the state: 12% and 20%, respectively. They were also about evenly divided on syringe exchanges: 45% for, 42% against.

In Western Kentucky, adults in low-income households were also less likely than elsewhere in the state to report that they were in excellent or very good personal health, with only 17% of them reporting such health, compared to 30% statewide.

The Kentucky Health Issues Poll is sponsored by the health foundation and Interact for Health, a Cincinnati-area foundation. The poll surveyed a random sample of 1,569 Kentucky adults via landline and cell phone. The statewide results have an error margin of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for each result. The regional error margins are higher and can be found in the regional reports.