Original Article

Role of Socioeconomic Factors on Physical and Mental Distress Reported by Alabama Adults with COPD

Authors: Michael Stellefson, PhD, MCHES, Cassandra D. Ford, PhD, RN, Min Qi Wang, PhD, Isabella Cline, BS, Caitlin Kinder, BSE


Objectives: Educational attainment, income, and race play significant roles in managing and treating patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of these socioeconomic factors and others on the physical and mental distress reported by patients with COPD living in Alabama.

Methods: A cross-sectional analysis was completed of Alabama Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 2015–2019 data collected from 4123 respondents who reported that a health professional told them they had COPD, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema. Univariate analyses examined descriptive differences in physical and mental distress among racial groups. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to assess physical and mental distress as a function of race and demographic variables (age, sex, employment status, household income, education level), controlling for dichotomous healthcare access variables (enrollment in a health insurance plan, having a usual source of care, routine check-up in the past 2 years).

Results: Most Alabama adults with COPD from 2015 to 2019 were female (64%) and older than 45 years (88%). Annual incomes were low, with >40% of respondents (43.84%) earning <$20,000/year; adults making between $35,000 and $49,999 were less likely (odds ratio 0.60, 95% confidence interval 0.38–0.96) to experience mental distress. Younger Alabama adults with COPD (25–64 years) were approximately two times more likely than respondents ages 65 and older to report mental distress. African Americans were less likely to report physical distress as compared with Whites (odds ratio 0.61, 95% confidence interval 0.44–0.83). Alabama adults who could not work were more likely than those with COPD who were employed/self-employed, out of work, retired, or identified as homemakers to report physical distress.

Conclusions: Public health and healthcare practitioners across Alabama should use these analyses to direct more targeted, high-yield interventions that will address existing health disparities among state residents living with COPD.
Posted in: Mental Health38

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