March 2, 2006

Cancer, Heart Disease, Alzheimerís Are Top Concerns According to Local Health Survey

More than 1,000 area residents responded to the Regional Health Assessment Project survey answering questions regarding demographic information, health concerns, affordable health care, local health services and other needs. The majority of the respondents were female between the ages of 45-64.

The highest percentage reported household members to have group insurance coverage, and an education level of a high school diploma. Cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimerís disease were rated as the top disease concerns by more than 75% of the respondents.

Adequate immunizations, child abuse/neglect, and illegal drug use were ranked as the top lifestyle health risks.

Environmental concerns included drinking water quality, crime prevention, and restaurant inspection.

More than half of the respondents indicated that health insurance and prescription drugs were not affordable.

The services provided by private physicians and the county health departments were rated as excellent by the largest majority. The top needs indicated were blood pressure screenings and flu shots.

Full reports of the Regional Health Assessment Project, including existing data on prevalent health problems, causes of death and social indicators, will be available soon at county health department offices and libraries, as well as the Northeast Missouri Rural Health Network (NMRHN) office located at 117 W. Potter Avenue in Kirksville. The information will also be posted on the Network website at www.nmrhn.org.

The assessment was conducted by the Network, with the assistance of the Truman State University Health Program Planning & Evaluation Class. Surveys were randomly mailed to nearly 5,000 residents within the NMRHNís l1-county service area to aid in gathering opinions on improving services, plus determining other needs for program planning and implementation to solve endemic health concerns.

As part of the project, a Community Health Report Card has also been published to share information on the health status of northeast Missourians in comparison to state and national figures. It includes tips on improving lifestyles in order to live a longer, healthier life and is available at the above named locations, as well as other local agencies.

The Northeast Missouri Rural Health Network is a nonprofit corporation, whose 45 members consist of area hospitals, health departments, ambulance districts, nursing homes, mental health providers, as well as other health care agencies and medical educators. It is committed to coordinating and improving the access and quality of basic health services for all residents, with a special emphasis on impacting populations such as the medically underserved, uninsured and underinsured. The Network serves an 11-county region including the counties of Adair, Clark, Knox, Lewis, Linn, Macon, Putnam, Schuyler, Scotland, Shelby and Sullivan.

Funding for this project was provided in part by the Missouri Foundation for Health, a philanthropic organization whose mission is to improve the health of the people in the communities it serves.

For more information on the Northeast Missouri Rural Health Network, CareLink or NMRHN Prescription Drug Assistance, call 660-665-0330 or 877-539-2227.

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