WATERTOWN, NY – The 8th Annual Community Health Survey of Adult Residents in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties has been completed for 2023. This year’s participation reached 1,472 individuals across the region, resulting in an average margin of error of +/- 2.7% for regional estimates. To date, 13,813 individuals have participated since the first survey in 2016. The survey aims to gauge residents’ experiences with healthcare systems in our region so that data-driven decisions can be utilized in planning future initiatives and activities.
Survey questions are developed and updated yearly by North Country Health Compass Partners, a group comprised of representatives from Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence County public health departments, hospitals, healthcare facilities, behavioral health clinics, and a wide array of community-based organizations that focus on the wellness of our community. Some questions remain constant from years prior to monitor trends, while other new questions are developed each year to reflect current needs.
“Each year the survey allows for us to gain the most updated data regarding individual experiences with healthcare in the North Country, including perspectives of their physical, dental, and behavioral health, and healthy lifestyle choices,” explains Kayla Burns FDRHPO’s Population Health Coordinator. “Results of the Community Health Survey are also cross tabulated across different demographics, which allows us to identify current health disparities, providing an opportunity for healthcare stakeholders to address specific needs.”
Below are seven key findings from this year’s survey:
Approximately 84% of North Country adult residents have one person or medical office that they think of as their personal doctor or healthcare provider. This is an increase from previous years.
Compared to previous years, fewer residents feel that they and their values are ‘always’ respected when they go to the doctor. Instead, more residents are answering ‘most of the time’ or ‘sometimes.’
Most North Country residents have visited a dentist or a dental clinic for a routine cleaning “within the past year.” However, this rate has decreased significantly since the pandemic from a high of 72% in 2018 to 58% in 2023.
When asked about the largest challenge in receiving local healthcare, the most common response was “long wait time,” in terms of length of time between scheduling appointment and the date of the appointment (40% in 2023, compared to 28% in 2022).
In 2023, approximately three in five North Country residents (61%) have been diagnosed with at least one of eight studied chronic health conditions (high blood pressure, obesity, mental health, pre-diabetes, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, COPD). While the percentage of individuals who have been diagnosed has not decreased, it is important to note that it also has not increased statistically significantly overall, with the exception of the number of individuals diagnosed with high blood pressure. This has increased significantly and dramatically to 34% in 2023 from a low of only 22% in 2018.
In 2023, mental health conditions have increased dramatically to 21% from lows of only 8% and 10% found in the region before the pandemic. However, these rates have not increased statistically significantly since 2022 (20%).
Among participants of this survey, frequent alcohol consumption (defined as consumption three or more times per week) has fallen to pre-pandemic levels.
The findings of this year’s survey, when compared to pre-pandemic results, indicate that COVID-19 continues to have an impact on the mental and physical health of regional residents. This survey will allow healthcare stakeholders to continue to monitor health outcomes as our community re-engages with activities that promote health, such as attending primary care well-visits, participating in chronic disease self-management programs, exercising, eating healthy foods, and connecting with loved ones.
“The findings of the Community Health Survey not only provide up-to-date information, but they also provide an opportunity for community members to engage in improving their personal health and strengthening the North County’s healthcare system, while simultaneously raising awareness,” concludes Ms. Burns.
Questions and comments can be directed here. For a full copy of the 2023 Community Health Survey, follow this link.