Appalachian Diseases of Despair

On behalf of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), NORC investigated how “diseases of despair” impact the Appalachian region. Diseases of despair include deaths due to alcohol and drug overdose, suicide, and alcoholic liver disease/cirrhosis.

NORC analyzed 2015 mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) multiple cause of death file. In addition to analyzing deaths caused by the diseases of despair, NORC also analyzed opioid-related deaths for the Appalachian counties of states in the Region. NORC investigated where disparities were concentrated within the region, and specifically, analyzed mortality data by Appalachian sub-region, county economic status, and rurality.

In 2015, in Appalachia, 11,187 deaths among 15 to 64 year olds were attributable to diseases of despair. The mortality rate was 37 percent higher in the Appalachian region than the non-Appalachian United States. Specifically, overdose mortality was 65 percent higher in the Appalachian region.

The full report can be read here.

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