One pocket of northwestern Independence has some work to do in improving the health of its residents, according to recent survey results.

One pocket of northwestern Independence has some work to do in improving the health of its residents, according to recent survey results.


The findings of the 2011 Community Health Assessment Evaluation, administered by the Independence Health Department and the University of Kansas Medical Center, were presented at Monday’s City Council study session.


Respondents in the 64054 ZIP code in northwestern Independence reported, in separate questions, that they are obese based on their average body mass indexes, that they are very unlikely to use city parks or trails and that they’ve smoked cigarettes at least once in the past year.


At-Large Council Member Lucy Young encouraged Health Department officials to examine the correlation among the three different health areas and the responses given in this particular section of Independence.


“If there’s not a target area for you guys, I would say that’s definitely it,” Young said. “I’d like to see what you can do.”


The community health survey aimed to collect baseline data on demographic information and health-risk behaviors in Independence, to allow the Health Department to evaluate the outcomes of its Building a Healthier Independence initiative and to create a strategic plan to address the community’s health needs.


The survey was mailed early last fall to a random sampling of 8,048 households – 2,012 per City Council district – across Independence. Among those households, 1,677 completed the surveys and were eligible to participate in an iPad raffle funded through the Building a Healthier Independence grant.


The median age among respondents was 58, and 60 percent of those who responded were female. An overwhelming majority – 91 percent – were white, while 5 percent in total were black and Hispanic or Latino respondents. The most respondents – 30 percent – live in the 64055 ZIP code in central Independence.


The entire survey findings are available at www.independencemo.org/health. The following are some of the prominent findings:


NUTRITION: While a strong majority reported consumption of fruits (92 percent) and vegetables (89 percent), respondents say they ate fewer than two servings of each on a daily basis. The federal government says half of the plate at each meal should consist of fruits and vegetables, according to the “Choose My Plate” model.


Twenty-four percent say they shop at a local farmers market, and the reasons given for not shopping at one included inconvenient hours of operation and being too far away. Respondents (31 percent each) say they would like to see a third farmers market site at either U.S. 40 and Little Blue Parkway or at U.S. 24 and Missouri 291.


TOBACCO USE: Residents are taking notice of the smoking cessation ads produced through Building a Healthier Independence. Sixty-seven percent reported seeing one of the ads in the past 30 days from when they took the survey, seeing them mostly through billboards, newspaper ads or at their physician’s office.


Nineteen percent reported using cigarettes either daily (16 percent) or less than daily (3 percent), but 69 percent among those who smoke say they would consider using a smoking cessation program offered through the Independence Health Department.


Among 24 options provided to them, those surveyed reported the following five areas as the most important overall public health problems in Independence: alcohol and drug abuse; being overweight or obese; domestic violence; tobacco use; and child abuse.


And while the state of Missouri only lists one of these among its top five concerns, many of those concerns reported by Independence residents often result in the diseases reported by the state.


The Health Department compared these responses to the top five overall public health issues reported by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; heart disease; alcohol- and substance-related deaths; diabetes; and motor vehicle accidents.


From here, the Health Department plans to create a community health improvement plan, refine the survey questions and conduct the survey again in 2013 for comparison to the 2011 baseline data findings.