New questions about prescription drug and alcohol use, mental wellness and access to health care will be part of the 2013 Anoka County Adult Health Survey.
This is the second time the county has surveyed residents about their health.
The county conducted its first-ever health survey in 2010, focusing on nutrition, physical activity and tobacco use. The 2013 survey, set to hit mailboxes in the next few weeks, digs a little deeper.
“Some of the other aspects of our lives can affect our ability to make healthy choices,” said Laurie Brovold, public health nursing manager with Anoka County Community Health and Environmental Services.
The eight-page survey is a multiple-choice questionnaire. It includes questions about alcohol consumption and prescription drug use, as well as questions about whether residents have insurance and access to health care. It will again cover nutrition, physical activity and tobacco use.
The survey, to be sent to 3,300 randomly selected households, is funded by the Minnesota Department of Health’s Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP). Six other metro counties are planning to send out the same survey in 2014, Brovold said.
Surveys are confidential and will be handled by the outside firm Wilder Research.
Results will help county health officials set public health priorities, including campaigns and efforts to reduce smoking, promote physical activity and healthy eating.
Public health is also about advocating for systemic changes that promote health — asking businesses to move their smoking areas away from the front doors and adding healthy items to break room vending machines, for example.
“It’s not eliminating the choices we can make. It’s allowing the healthy choice to be the easy choice,” Brovold said.
In 2010, survey results showed that Anoka County had a higher rate of tobacco use than other metro counties. About 23 percent of Anoka County residents surveyed reported using tobacco, compared with the statewide average of 16 percent.
Survey results also showed a disconnect between perceptions of health and reality. About 59 percent of Anoka County residents classified themselves as in “excellent or very good health,” but 67 parent of respondents reported a height and weight that indicated they were either overweight or obese.
The results did reveal some positive news. About 94 percent of residents felt their neighborhood was pleasant to walk in and almost 70 percent of respondents said they exercise outdoors.
County health officials will compare data from 2010 and 2013, but Brovold said they don’t expect dramatic changes.
“The results won’t be seen in a year. It will be 10, 15, 20 years. That’s the nature of prevention. It isn’t immediate results. It’s about results in the future.”