Research Up-To-Date

The Newsletter of the Urban Appalachian Council Research Committee

January-February 2007

Editor:  Roberta M. Campbell

Contributors: Rebecca Bailey,  Stephanie Davis, Ann McCracken, Michael Maloney, Phillip Obermiller, John Mark Summer

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The Research Committee was created at the founding of the Urban Appalachian Council more than thirty years ago and has always informed the council through active research. To be notified of future research committee meetings, which are open to all, please contact or phone 251-0202.

Please send your article, announcement, or website link to Roberta Campbell at Also, feel free to forward this newsletter to interested parties.

Identifying Appalachians to Understand the Impact of Appalachian Culture

By Kathryn A. Russ

One of the difficulties of doing research on Appalachians is the issue of identification. Negative stereotypes and the experience of discrimination have contributed to the loss or outright denial of having Appalachian roots. The following excerpts from Dr. Kathryn A. Russ’s doctoral dissertation, The Effects of Appalachian Culture on Career Choice (2006), highlight a new measure for identifying Appalachians in order to see if there are correlations between culture and career choice. This measure is based on a similar measure created by Research Committee member and long-time activist and scholar, Phillip Obermiller, which was also used by Dr. Robert Ludke, of the University of Cincinnati, on the community health status survey.

This study was based on responses from 131 sophomores at Goshen High School. Goshen is officially located in Appalachia (in Clermont County) so all participants are technically Appalachians, but most students seemed unaware of this fact. The purpose of the study was to compare Appalachian and non-Appalachian students in their career choices.

Several methods were used to determine cultural affiliation. Parents were asked if their child: “would be considered of Appalachian descent” and “were any of your people originally from (subregions of Appalachia)”. A demographic questionnaire filled out by the student asked for the student’s, their parents’, and grandparents’ birthplaces. An additional student questionnaire specifically asked for a yes or no response to the following questions:

Do you consider yourself to be of Appalachian heritage/background?

Do your parents tell you that your family has an Appalachian heritage/background?

If yes, do you still have family/people in Appalachia (e.g. eastern Kentucky, eastern Ohio, West Virginia, eastern Tennessee, other areas in Appalachia)?

If yes, do you visit your family/people in Appalachia?

Using the information gained from the different questions, self-identification was used to determine whether a student was classified as “Appalachian” or “non-Appalachian”. The final distribution was fairly even, with 64 students (49%) self-identifying as Appalachian and 67 (51%) as non-Appalachian.

Summary: Appalachian and non-Appalachian students have comparable family SES (income and parent educational levels). Approximately half of the sophomore class self-identifies as being of Appalachian culture.

By sophomore year, students are already significantly differentiated in career interests and choice. Non-Appalachians are more likely interested in management and sales (almost twice as many as Appalachians); Appalachians in blue-collar, hands-on, type occupations.

Gender in job choice is more important in Goshen population (both groups) than in most urban schools. Appalachian culture supports gender-specific occupations (females interested in, and choose jobs that are female dominated; males do the same). Goshen is a blue-collar area, which also may help explain – blue collar also supports gender-specific occupations. Appalachian and blue-collar reinforce each other.

Trust levels and self-efficacy (belief can do a job) levels are not significantly different between the two groups, but have different influences. Appalachians more heavily influenced by family than non-Appalachians.

Family influences career development and choice directly and indirectly through self-efficacy and career interests. Appalachians are restricted in their occupational interests and choices. Career interventions are needed to broaden opportunities for this minority culture. Counselors working with Appalachians would improve interventions by becoming more familiar with aspects of the culture that affect the counseling relationship and develop methods of using cultural strengths successfully.

Appalachian families, according to the data, are not living in poverty by comparison with the non-Appalachians in their community. Income and parents’ educational levels are fairly equivalent for the two groups. This suggests that the differences in occupational interests and choices for the Appalachian and non-Appalachian students are not the result of socioeconomic status, but of culture. For vocational counselors, this means becoming familiar with the culture and designing interventions that are not focused on poverty but address Appalachian needs.

For Dr. Russ’s complete dissertation go to:

The Well-being of Children in Cincinnati's Price Hill

By John Besl

In recent months, the Child Policy Research Center (CPRC) at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center has produced brief statistical profiles of a few selected communities in the tri-state area.  The statistical snapshot focuses primarily on measures of child health and well-being, featuring data from the 2000 Census and Ohio’s 2003 birth certificate file.  The latest community profile produced by CPRC covers the three Price Hill neighborhoods – East, West, and Lower – on Cincinnati’s west side.  In general, child well-being is highest in West Price Hill, while children fare worst in Lower Price Hill.   The following are selected findings from the profiles. 

For the full profile, including a map and five detailed tables, visit the CPRC Research web page at and scroll down to the “Ad Hoc Reports” section. 

Study of Cervical Cancer and Appalachian Women at OSU

Electra Paskett, a professor in The Ohio State University School of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology is principal investigator of a five-year, $7.5 million grant to explore why the incidence of and death from cervical cancer among Ohio’s Appalachian women are almost 50% higher compared with Ohio women living outside of that region. The Community Awareness Resources and Education (CARE) study focuses on three main areas:

According to the American Cancer Society Ohio Appalachian women smoke more and have fewer Pap tests than non-Appalachian peers. Data from early interviews of Ohio Appalachian women indicate that “barriers such as transportation, the cost of health care services, and distrust of medical providers are among the key obstacles for these women”.

From Impact (The Research Magazine of the Ohio State University School of Public Health) 2006.

Appalachian Textbook Updated for 2007

The widely used reader, Appalachia: Social Context Past and Present, is now available in a fifth edition. This edition features new entries in the areas of migration, politics, health, poverty, welfare reform, and participatory research. Data from the 2000 census are used throughout.

The volume also features individual sections on selected Appalachian publications, videos, and websites. The new edition continues a tradition of presenting "a new look at an old region" and is designed to serve as a textbook for Appalachian studies courses. With thirty-seven chapters in nine topical areas, many find it useful as a general reference book on contemporary Appalachia.

Cincinnati-based editors, Michael Maloney and Phillip Obermiller, are members of the Urban Appalachian Council's Research Committee.

Copies of the fifth edition can be ordered from the publisher by calling 800.228.0810 or at

Register for the Appalachian Studies Conference

Registration and the preliminary program for the Appalachian Studies Association's thirtieth annual conference are now available at The conference will be held March 23-25, 2007 at Maryville College in Maryville, Tennessee. The conference theme is Piecing the Appalachian Experience: Celebrating an Organization and a Region. Scholarships to attend are also available.

Health Status Chartbook Available

The 2005 Greater Cincinnati Community Health Status Survey: White Appalachian Chartbook may be viewed at the The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati website under publications. The address is

Research Notesgraphic of F.Y.I note

(From the Research Committee: Debbie Zorn, Chair)

Member Updates:

Omope Carter-Daboiku, head of UAC speakers’ bureau, is interested in the devolution of identity.

Sherry Marshall, master’s degree candidate at the University of Cincinnati is interested in researching Urban Appalachians, in particular assimilated Appalachians who do or do not identify with an Appalachian heritage.

Ann McCracken, evaluator, The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati shared chart books on Appalachian and African American data from the Community Health Status Survey and a copy of the Hispanic Health Survey results. She noted that data from the Community Health Status Survey indicated that first generation Appalachians were older and had more problems with physical health. Second generation Appalachians had more mental health problems.

Becky Bailey: submitted an in-house grant proposal to Northern Kentucky University to train students to work with community groups interested in oral history project work

Bonnie Kroeger shared that a study has been published about drop out rates in Philadelphia and other cities.

Robert Ludke’s proposal for a presentation on the use of hospice care by Urban Appalachians has been accepted by the Appalachian Studies Association for presentation at the 2007 conference. He has developed a new study of dental health literacy for the National Institute of Health.

Committee chair Debbie Zorn led a discussion about the Urban Appalachian Council’s future and plans for the committee:

Additional Links

Center for the Study of Gender and Ethnicity in Appalachia

The Appalachian Connection (newspaper)

East Tennessee State University Center for Appalachian Studies and Services

The University of Kentucky Appalachian Center

Berea College Appalachian Center

The Center for Appalachian Studies, Appalachian State University

Appalachian Studies Association

Social Areas Report of Cincinnati

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