Central Florida Community Health Assessment Now Underway

Some 3,000 Central Florida residents will be asked to speak up about their health care experiences and health habits as part of a comprehensive community health assessment being conducted now through the end of August.

Co-sponsored by the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) and the Community Health Improvement Council (CHIC), with support from the Health Council of East Central Florida, the survey is a second attempt at sizing up the health of Central Floridians.

Central Florida’s first comprehensive community health assessment, sponsored by the Foundation and CHIC, was done in 1999. It resulted in the publication, “Community Health Assessment: Orange, Osceola & Seminole Counties, Florida.” (You can view this report at www.wphf.org.)

The original information will serve as a benchmark to determine if the community’s health is changing.

This year’s survey will include nearly 3,000 calls to a random sample of adults aged 18 and older in Orange, Osceola, Seminole and now Brevard counties. The surveys address about 130 items and take about 20 minutes.

Professional Research Consultants, Inc., is conducting the survey. It also conducted the first survey.

Survey information will be supplemented with existing public health data, vital statistics and other regional information.

The results will enable community leaders and policy-makers to spot significant changes in community health risks, disease incidence rates and gaps in services.

A final report on the findings is due to be released in late fall. County-specific and regional results will be available.

Sponsors hope the results will help spotlight critical issues that need to be addressed, and provide decision-makers with a base on which to build priorities, develop interventions and commit resources to improve community health.

While there was good health news in the initial community health assessment, it also pointed to areas in need of improvement. In particular, it showed the need to increase the percentage of Central Floridians with access to regular medical clinics or physicians, health insurance and dental care.

The structure of the survey will enable local officials to compare the health of one county to the health of another, and to compare county health against that of Florida as a whole and the health of the nation. It also will allow them to see how well they are meeting the national health objectives established in the federal program, Healthy People 2010.