Community Health Assessment available
By Matt Echelberry
The 2012 Community Health Assessment, commissioned by Avita Health System, has been completed and is ready for review. It can be assessed online at www.avitahealth.healthforecast.net/index-1.html.
A follow up to the assessment conducted in 2010, this 147-page report is a “systematic, data-driven approach to determining the health status, behaviors and needs of residents in the service area of Avita Health System. Subsequently, this information may be used to inform decisions and guide efforts to improve community health and wellness.”
The assessment is broken into several categories: overall health, mental health, disease and chronic conditions, injury and violence, modifiable health risks, access to health services, and health education and outreach. It is intended to serve as a tool for reaching three goals:
1) To improve residents’ health status, increase their life spans, and elevate their overall quality of life.
2) To reduce the health disparities among residents. By gathering demographic information along with health status and behavior data, it will be possible to identify population segments that are most at-risk for various diseases and injuries.
3) To increase accessibility to preventive services for all community residents. More accessible preventive services will prove beneficial in accomplishing the first goal (improving health status, increasing life spans,
and elevating the quality of life), as well as lowering the costs associated with caring for late-stage diseases resulting from a lack of preventive care.
To collect the data, a random sample of 400 residents, age 18 or older, were interviewed and the results were weighted in proportion to the actual population distribution. A focus group was also held in October of 2012, consisting of 11 key informants, including representatives from public health; social service providers, and other community leaders. In addition to the key informant focus group, telephone interviews with 10 local physicians about local health issues were conducted.
The top-ranked priorities identified among those interviewed were (in order of most frequent): substance abuse, obesity and nutrition, tobacco use (tied), mental health (tied) and chronic disease conditions. Other areas of concern noted by participants were an aging population and substandard housing.
In the report, the data is presented in the form of charts and graphs and compared with state and national statistics. The information will be used to assist local committees in prioritizing the health needs of the community and how best to address them. The Inquirer will provide more information as prioritizing develops.
The assessment was conducted on behalf of Avita Health System by Professional Research Consultants, Inc. (PRC). PRC is a nationally-recognized healthcare consulting firm with extensive experience conducting Community Health Needs Assessments such as this in hundreds of communities across the United States since 1994.