A recently released map of Kentucky demonstrates how life expectancy varies across the state’s 120 counties. The map vividly shows a decline in life expectancy as one travels east from the “Golden Triangle” in central urban Kentucky to the mountains of Appalachia. The lowest life expectancies are largely in the far southeastern portion of the state, where residents of the Central Highlands have confronted adverse social determinants of health for generations. Indeed, companion maps released by the Center on Society and Health, which plot median household income, poverty, and educational attainment at the census tract level, show the stark socioeconomic disadvantage in this distressed Appalachian region. The maps are intended as “conversation starters” to stimulate public discourse about the factors that shape health outcomes and to mobilize community concern and policy action to address health disparities in Appalachia. Meaningful change at the local level will be essential to transform the social and economic factors responsible for the region’s health.
Woolf SH, Chapman DA, Scutchfield FD. Geographic health disparities in Kentucky: starting a conversation about local solutions. Front Public Health Serv Sys Res 2016; 5(3):1–8. DOI: 10.13023/FPHSSR.0503.01.