It’s survey season! In mid-September the Independence Health Department will launch a short but wide-ranging community health assessment asking about everything from health care access to alcohol consumption. You may or may not receive the survey as participants will be randomly selected by ZIP code in order for the health department to gain an accurate picture of health in different parts of Independence.

About 10,500 households will be selected to receive the survey, which can be returned by mail or taken online. That being said, we are encouraging residents to use the online version in order to save health department staff time. While 10,500 may seem a large sample, it is necessary for us to have a broad sample in order to be confident in the overall results.

Those who return their assessment, along with a separate and confidential contact information ticket, will be entered into a drawing for one of six Kindle e-readers.

However, an excellent e-reader isn’t the only reason to give us your opinion; this assessment will help guide our goals in the years to come. The Community Health Improvement Plan, which began this year and will extend until 2018, will use feedback from the survey and other community sources to form measurable goals for improvement in our city’s health. Our hope is that this will allow us to continue to address the real needs of Independence.

The data collected will be compared to data from the 2011 health assessment to find out how health behaviors and health needs have changed over the past two years. Examining these changes will give us the ability to evaluate programs already in action, such as EBT at the farmers market, smoking cessation campaigns, active living programs, etc. In turn, the evaluations of these programs keep us competitive when seeking grants to better our community’s health in the future.

So, if you see one of our surveys in the mail, please help us better serve you by taking 15 minutes out of your day. Better services, a healthier community, and a chance to win a Kindle e-reader, means you have nothing to lose!

For more information on the Community Health Assessment, which is being conducted in conjunction with the Building a Healthier Independence initiative, contact the Independence Health Department at 816-325-7185 or

Larry Jones, MPH, is the director of the Independence Health Department.