San Juan Basin Public Health wants to take the community’s pulse to better gauge changing attitudes about public health issues.
An online survey allows residents in Archuleta and La Plata counties to weigh in on their level of concern about flu, diabetes, opioid abuse, suicide prevention, among other public health issues. The health department will use survey results to help guide the agency’s programs and education efforts.
“Feedback from community members does drive programming at the agency,” department spokeswoman Claire Ninde said in an email.
The survey also aims to gauge concerns about social factors that contribute to health such as poverty, education, domestic violence and affordable housing.
The survey is part of an effort to update the department’s public health improvement plan focused on improving the community’s overall health and addressing issues facing specific groups, she said.
Data gathered from the survey helps the health department develop programs and seek grant funding, she said.
When the department’s plan was updated five years ago, the health department found the top two health priorities were obesity and difficulty seeing a provider to address medical, mental and oral health care needs, she said. Residents had trouble getting health care when they didn’t have insurance or understand their insurance, and when there was a shortage of providers.
As a result of the survey, the department expanded the assistance it offers to patients to navigate insurance and the health care system.
Since 2012, health priorities and concerns may have changed for several reasons. The Affordable Care Act provided insurance to many residents, Ninde said, and media coverage around suicide and opioid abuse has increased awareness about those issues. The community’s demographics also have likely changed, she said.
“As demographics change – whether due to an aging population, economic opportunity, quality-of-life concerns – we may also encounter shifting health priorities,” she said.
In addition to the online survey, health department staff will survey residents in person and host focus groups intended to gather feedback and to prioritize issues.
The survey is open to all Archuleta and La Plata county residents over 18 years old. It takes less than 15 minutes to complete. All responses are anonymous.
The survey can be found online at sjbpublichealth.org. To receive a paper version of the survey, residents can call San Juan Basin Health at 247-5702 in La Plata County or 264-2409 in Archuleta County.