In May of last year, Healthy Valley 2000 began an ambitious project to survey the health of 5,000 people in the Valley. Almost 24 months later, Project CoNECT has completed over 2,000 surveys, and the results indicate that the Valley is doing better than national averages in several categories. Project CoNECT is a unique effort to identify needs and improve the health of the 100,000 population Valley region. The project is a joint effort of Healthy Valley 2000 and Griffin Hospital.
The Valley does better than national averages in terms of smoking, exercise, cholesterol, seat belt use and mammograms. It does worse in terms of weight control. Nationally, 29% of the U.S. population are smokers, while only 16% in the Valley smoke. However, 61% say they want to quit.
Nationally, 26% of people are 20% or more over their ideal weight, while in the Valley 37% are 20% or more over their ideal weight. Given this statistic, it is surprising that the Valley does better than the national average in terms of exercise. Thirty-four percent of people in the U.S. report getting some form of regular exercise, while 54% of Valleyites report the same. When asked which area of their health they most want to improve, participants identify weight loss and exercise as the top two. The greatest barrier to exercise is lack of time.
The Valley does better than the U.S. average in the area of cholesterol, and the results are mixed in terms of blood pressure. Twenty-seven percent of people in the U.S. have cholesterol levels over 240, while only 19% in the Valley report the same. While only 12% in the Valley have high blood pressure, 35% nationally have high blood pressure. However, 55% of people in the Valley dont know their blood pressure. This statistic may indicate that more blood pressure screenings need to be done around the community.
In terms of womens health, less than 25% of women over 50 in the U.S. had a mammogram in the past two years. The survey results indicate that 48% of women over 50 in the Valley had a mammogram in the past two years. This figure may be as high as it is because health conscious women are more likely to take the survey. About 56% of women in the Valley and nationally had a pap test within the past year.
In terms of mens health, 21% of Valley men had not had a rectal or prostate exam within the past two years, and 31% had never had one. Seventy percent had never had a PSA test to identify prostate cancer.
The survey also indicates that more and more people are turning to alternative medicine, including herbal medicine, acupuncture, chiropratic care and others. Thirty percent of participants said they had used alternative medicine, and 73% believed it "may be of value."
As far as safety issues are concerned, 56% of participants report wearing a seatbelt regularly, while only 46% of people nationally report the same. Ninety-three percent of participants reported having a smoke detector that works in their home, and 10% reported owning a hand gun.
In the area of mental health, 41% of participants said that stress had affected their health "a lot." Fifty-seven percent reported being depressed occasionally, and 74% believe that spirituality has a positive impact on your health.
"The survey results start to develop a picture of Valley health behaviors and risks," said Daun Barrett of the Valley Parish Nurse Program. "This information will help us develop and target interventions that will result in healthier lifestyles and a healthier Valley population," she added.
Project CoNECT is a partnership of 14 Valley health agencies that came together with the help of Healthy Valley 2000 and Griffin Hospital to survey the health of the Valley community. The partner agencies are: Ansonia Community Action, Birmingham Group, Community Health Connection, Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce, Hewitt Management, Naugatuck Valley Health District, OMNI Home Health Services, Suburban Health Plan TEAM, Valley Parish Nurse Program, Valley United Way, Visiting Nurse Association and Visiting Nurse Services.
The results of each survey are kept confidential, but the aggregate results will be used to identify community health needs and to design programs to meet unmet needs. Each person that takes the survey receives a detailed Personal Health Report, a 400-page Health at Home Guide and a Guide to Valley Health Resources. While an average of 100 surveys a month are being completed, the committee still has a long way to go to reach that magic number of 5,000. The committee is always looking for individuals that want to take the survey, or organizations that would like to offer the survey to employees. Anyone interested in the survey should contact Healthy Valley at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (203) 735-3942.
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