WRITER: DANIEL MC MILLAN
CONTACT: DAVE PEDERSEN
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-8032; fax (319) 335-8034
Release: March 5, 1999
March 5, 1999
Risk factors, health outcomes identified in UI's Keokuk County Rural
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Residents of Iowa's Keokuk County lead in some important
indicators of health but lag in other areas, according to initial data
collected by the University of Iowa's Keokuk County Rural Health Study.
Keokuk County residents reported elevated rates of injury and childhood
asthma, lower rates of seatbelt usage, and infrequent use of protective
equipment when performing hazardous agricultural activities, according
to researchers. However, fewer people in the county reported having smoked
cigarettes in their lifetime compared to residents of Iowa as a whole.
Study participants also rated their health as better than did residents
of Iowa as a whole and the U.S as a whole.
"A number of health outcomes identified in this initial round of
data collection can be improved through prevention and will be targeted
for further study in round 2, which will begin in March," said James
Merchant, M.D., Dr. P.H., UI professor and head of preventive medicine
and environmental health, and principal investigator of the study.
The study population consisted of 2,258 of the 11,624 persons living
in Keokuk County. In all, 1,004 of the 4,574 families in the county participated
in the first round of the study.
Study findings of concern to researchers were high rates of injury and
childhood asthma. Some 24 percent of adults and 23 percent of children
had sustained an injury in the past 12 months. Among children, rates of
asthma were high (12 percent) compared to other published studies.
Seatbelt use was low, especially for men. Only 27 percent of men and
39 percent of adolescent boys reported always using a seatbelt when they
drove a vehicle in the past 30 days. Few farmers used protective engineering
controls, such as cabs (37 percent) and roll-over protection structures
(8 percent) on tractors, and very few always wore personal protective equipment,
such as gloves, when using farm chemicals.
An important positive health behavior identified by the study was that
only 37 percent of Keokuk County residents have smoked cigarettes in their
lifetime, compared to 47 percent of Iowans as a whole. Only 17 percent
of Keokuk County residents are current smokers.
Study participants rated their health as somewhat better than did residents
of Iowa as a whole and the country as a whole. Some 90 percent of county
residents studied reported that they are in "excellent, very good
or good health," compared to 88 percent of all Iowans surveyed by
the Iowa Department of Public Health and 86 percent of all Americans surveyed
by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the coming months UI investigators will look in depth at the information
collected in order to evaluate associations between environmental exposures
and specific health outcomes. This nationally recognized study, funded
by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health/Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, is planned to continue for 20 years.
For more information about the Keokuk County Rural Health Study, call
the research office in Sigourney at (515) 622-2371 or (800) 551-0451.