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Health survey needs more participants from Maple Ridge

The Fraser Health Authority is collecting data that could be used to address health and wellness issues in a precise way, but time is running out to get enough responses.

The My Health My Community survey is intended to generate health statistics, and the authority would like a healthy response. The online survey closes June 30, 2014, and aims to collect information from between two to four per cent of the population who are aged 18 and up.

“It would provide us with community level – and possibly neighbourhood level – information on a whole host of variables that we have not accessed in the past,” said Dr. Lisa Mu, a medical health officer with Fraser Health.

She said the information will replace data that used to be collected in the long-form national census “to some degree.”

The survey required 43,000 people, and opened in June of 2013. So far it is at only 48 per cent of that goal in Fraser Health, compared with 81 per cent in Coastal Vancouver.

Maple Ridge is lagging farther behind.

Fraser Health would like 1,458 surveys completed in Maple Ridge, and is at 40 per cent of that goal, with 587. The minimum to have reliable data is 871 surveys.

Pitt Meadows is slightly ahead of Maple Ridge at 43 per cent, but has only 199 of 275 surveys completed.

The survey addresses health status, risk factors and overall lifestyle questions. How long people commute to and from work, diet, smoking and alcohol consumption are some of the questions.

When it comes to planning a community’s health and social services, a ‘one size fits all’ approach does not always work. Within cities, neighbourhoods are unique, varying by factors like commuting options, opportunities for physical activity, ease of accessing grocery stores, and the residents sense of belonging, just to name a few. Fraser Health needs more people to complete the My Health My Community survey in order to understand these neighbourhood differences and work with local governments and organizations to respond accordingly.

“This will give Maple Ridge specific data that the city will not get through any other means,” said Mu. “I’m really, really encouraging Maple Ridge to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Even people’s feelings belonging to their community are some of the detailed information that can be gathered through such a survey.

“We know that a sense of social connectedness is an indicator for health and well being,” Mu said.

Fraser health will also target demographic groups who are less likely to be able to answer an online survey, and will solicit their written responses. Survey teams will be out in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, and other Valley communities.

The information collected through the survey can be used to shape future community programs and services. Information about things such as busy roads, neighbourhood safety or nearby green spaces can help planners plot traffic patterns, parks or community facilities, and data on smoking and obesity patterns can aid health authorities in targeting disease prevention programs.

• The survey can be completed at www.myhealthmycommunity.org in English or Chinese.

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