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Survey Examines Health of Parents, Guardians in Region and Its Impact on Child Health

Sep 17, 2018

The health of a child is inextricably linked to the health of his/her parents. As parents and caregivers in our region endeavor to raise healthy youth, they must consider their own physical and mental health, and their ability to get support when needed. All three issues were addressed in the 2017 Child Well-Being Survey, funded by Interact for Health and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, with support from the United Way of Greater Cincinnati.

Local parents have emotional support systems

Two questions were asked to understand the mental and emotional health of caregivers in our region.

First, respondents assessed their general mental health as excellent, very good, good, fair or poor. More than 6 in 10 adults (65%) said their mental health was excellent or very good.

The survey also asked if, in the last 12 months, respondents had someone they could turn to for day-to-day emotional support. More than 9 in 10 parents (92%) indicated that they had such support systems in place.

This is higher than the nation, as the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health found that 75% of parents in the U.S. had emotional support available to them.

“Assistance for parents and caregivers can come from a variety of sources, whether it’s other family members, schools, child care providers or social service agencies,” said O’dell Moreno Owens, M.D., M.P.H., President and CEO of Interact for Health. “Data from the survey show a link between having a support system in place and a more positive assessment of the parent’s physical and emotional health. Thus, our community needs to ensure that options are available for parents to get the support they need.”  

Parents in our region less physically healthy than nation

The survey also examined the physical health status of parents and caregivers, asking them to rate their physical health as excellent, very good, good, fair or poor. Almost half (48%) of respondents rated their health as excellent or very good, and an additional 37% indicated they were in good health. Just 14% felt they were in fair or poor health.

Responses to this question were also analyzed by sex, which allowed for comparison with national data. Of the female guardians in our region, 63% said they were in excellent or very good health, compared to 77% of mothers responding to the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health. Seventy-four percent of male guardians in the region considered themselves to be in excellent or very good physical health, compared with 81% of fathers nationally.

Child health and parent health closely linked

Finally, survey data about the parents’ assessment of their own health was compared with the parents’ assessment of their child’s health. Data show that there is a clear connection between parent and child health, with 56% of adults who rated their own health as excellent or very good also rating their child’s health as excellent or very good.          

About the Child Well-Being Survey

The 2017 Child Well-Being Survey is funded by Interact for Health and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, with support from the United Way of Greater Cincinnati. It was conducted March 5-Aug. 9, 2017, by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati. A random sample of 2,757 adult caregivers from a 22-county region in Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana was interviewed. This included 1,056 landline interviews and 1,701 cell phone interviews with cell phone users. In 95 of 100 cases, the estimates will be accurate to ± 1.9%. There are other sources of variation inherent in public opinion studies, such as non-response, question wording or context effects that can introduce error or bias. For more information about the Child Well-Being Survey, please visit

About Interact for Health

Interact for Health is improving the health of all people in our region. We serve as a catalyst by promoting health equity through grants, education, research, policy and engagement. To amplify the impact of our work, Interact for Health focuses on three strategic priorities: reducing tobacco use, addressing the opioid epidemic and ensuring that children have access to health care through school-based health centers. We are an independent foundation that serves 20 counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

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