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J Rural Health. 2002 Fall;18(4):521-35.

Chronic disease and injury in an agricultural county: The Keokuk County Rural Health Cohort Study.

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  • 1College of Public Health, The University of Iowa, Iowa City 52242, USA.


The Keokuk County Rural Health Study (KCRHS) was designed as a 20-year, prospective cohort study focusing on chronic disease and injury in an agricultural southeastern Iowa county. The goals of the KCRHS are to prospectively describe, measure, and analyze prevalent rural and agriculturally related adverse health outcomes and their respective risk factors and to provide the basis for future community-based intervention programs to reduce disease and injury incidence. Methods of data collection included in-person interviews, medical screenings, and environmental assessments of homes and farms. All households studied were rural; comparisons were made among farm, rural nonfarm, and town households, between men and women, and between smokers and nonsmokers. The present paper reports selected adult baseline data from Round 1 of this study. Residents of farm households were somewhat younger and better educated than residents of rural nonfarm and town households; smoked less; were more likely to have ridden an all-terrain vehicle; and were more likely to report firearms in the home. Eighty-nine percent of the men and 66% of the women engaged in farming or did so in the past. Men more often reported hearing loss, were more often overweight and obese, more often reported an injury, less often reported asthma, and less often saw a medical practitioner. Women reported poorer emotional health and higher rates of depression symptoms. The KCRHS has identified several modifiable health outcomes and risk factors as candidates for further analysis and targets for community-based prevention and intervention programs.

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