Yale launches health survey to curb chronic disease in New Haven

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(Photo by Michael Marsland)

Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE) at Yale School of Public Health announced plans to launch a health survey of residents in six New Haven neighborhoods at a press conference on Monday, Aug. 31, in City Hall.

The effort is part of a long-term project that seeks to reverse worsening rates of chronic disease in the city. The survey will reach approximately 1,300 adults in the city’s Dixwell, West River/Dwight, Fair Haven, Hill North, Newhallville, and West Rock neighborhoods who will be asked about their health and community health issues, including access to health care, diet, exercise, tobacco use, and their neighborhood, environment.

“It is important to hear directly from residents so that we can develop programs and policies to continue improving health in New Haven. Every voice is crucial to this effort,” said Jeannette Ickovics, a Yale professor of public health and CARE’s director. “To transform New Haven, we must address the stark health disparities we experience as a city. If we can combat this, I believe that New Haven can be a model for the nation.”

The survey began Aug. 31 and will continue through October. Interviews will take about 30 minutes, and each participant will receive a $10 gift card to a local grocery store and be eligible to win a $500 cash prize. New Haven residents have been hired and trained to administer the surveys.

Recent evidence suggests that comprehensive health interventions are an important approach to improving community health and can result in successful outcomes. The survey will help to lay a crucial foundation for improving health, neighborhood by neighborhood, said Ickovics.

In prior surveys, completed in 2009 and 2012, city residents were found to suffer from higher rates of chronic diseases — heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and asthma — than the national average. One such survey reported the following risk factors that affect health:

  • 4 in 10 residents were hungry (reporting they didn’t have enough food or money for food)
  • 3 in 10 smoked daily
  • 1 in 3 felt unsafe in their neighborhood during the day; 2 in 3 felt unsafe at night

In response to that data, CARE worked with neighborhood groups and community leaders to organize new health activities for residents: helping to build community gardens; bringing more farmers’ markets into communities; creating new faith-based programs with a focus on health; developing traffic-calming measures and walking trails; and sponsoring cooking classes and exercise programs.

The new survey is part of a larger initiative led by the Partnership for a Healthier Greater New Haven, a coalition of nearly 40 individuals and organizations — including the New Haven Health Department and Yale-New Haven Hospital — that is developing a collaborative health improvement plan for the region.

The CARE survey also serves, in part, to fulfill a mandate of the Affordable Care Act that requires hospitals to conduct a community health needs assessment and action plan. The Partnership for a Healthier Greater New Haven will use survey findings to develop a collaborative regional health improvement plan and to guide strategic planning initiatives and outreach efforts.

Another partner in this initiative, DataHaven, a community-based non-profit organization that promotes data sharing, has developed a parallel survey, the 2015 Community Wellbeing Survey, to study wellbeing at the state level, allowing comparisons to information from CARE and other local and national surveys. For more information about CARE, visit care.yale.edu.

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Media Contact

Alycia Santilli: alycia.santilli@yale.edu, 203-785-7651