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Introduction: Residents of Appalachia experience elevated rates of morbidity and mortality compared to national averages, and these disparities are associated with inequitable exposures to various determinants of population health. Social and environmental determinants of health are a useful lens through which to develop and evaluate programs to mitigate regional health disparities.
Methods: This 2023 scoping review was conducted of studies linking determinants of Appalachian health with leading causes of regional mortality and morbidity. The search strategy employed a keyword search that included geographic terms for the Appalachian Region and the primary adverse health outcomes in that region. Studies meeting the following inclusion criteria were reviewed: original article, published in the last five years, involving an Appalachian population, and includes a rigorous assessment of an association between a population health determinant and one or more leading causes of Appalachian morbidity and mortality.
Results: The search returned 221 research articles, including 30 interventional studies. The top three health outcomes included cancer (43.59%), diseases of despair (23.08%), and diabetes (12.82). Access to care (27.3%), rurality (18.9%), and education (14.8%) were the most common population health determinants identified. Interventional studies were categorized by program types: education, technology, partnerships, and multilevel interventions. Due to the heterogeneity of study types, the studies were combined using a narrative synthesis.
Implications: The results of this work can inform the development and evaluation of additional programs to promote Appalachian population health. Our study team will use these results to inform community-based discussions that develop strategic plans to mitigate health disparities in Central and Southcentral Appalachian Virginia.
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Driscoll D, O’Donnell H, Patel M. Assessing and addressing the determinants of Appalachian population health: A scoping review. J Appalach Health 2023;5(3):85–102. DOI: https://doi.org/10.13023/jah.0503.07