Vancouver Coastal Health is teaming up with the University of British Columbia and Fraser Health to find out more about how healthy British Columbians are.
My Health My Community is a web-based survey launched recently to help health authorities develop a clearer picture of the health of communities along the Fraser River from Lillooet to Vancouver and up the Coast to Bella Bella. Survey organizers hope to have between 40,000 to 50,000 people respond over the next six months.
“We know that a great proportion of the determinants of health and well-being is influenced by our physical, social and economic environment,” said Dr. Jat Sandhu, regional director of public health surveillance at Vancouver Coastal Health. “We don’t have a particularly good understanding of this at the level where decisions are made.”
The survey is about how people’s lifestyles interact with their community, neighbourhoods and the physical environment and influence health and well-being, he said.
“We want that information so that we can then, at a local level, use that information to help understand what are some of those determinants and look at providing programs and services to meet those needs,” he added.
It takes about 15 minutes to complete the survey, which looks at health factors ranging from diet and exercise to availability of recreational facilities. It asks questions like: “When was the last time you saw a doctor?” and “How many fast-food meals did you eat last week?”
They are gathering the information because of a change in scope the federal government made to the national census in 2011.
The collected data will help the health authorities when they work in partnership with municipalities to address specific community needs.
Sandhu is organizing the survey and explained that before its main launch two pilot surveys were conducted which helped to show that “there were vast differences between neighbourhoods which may relate to community assets and people’s sense of belonging to a community.”
Sandhu added that he is particularly interested in exploring this link between health and community connection.
“The greater the sense of connectedness to their community the more likely they are to have positive lifestyle behaviours,” he said.
For more information about My Health My Community and to access the survey, readers can go to www.myhealthmycommunity.org.