County conducts first behavioral health risk survey since 2009

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published December 9, 2015

Shutterstock image


MACOMB COUNTY — Health demographics are always changing, with different issues becoming progressively better or worse.

In an effort to keep services readily available to address different health concerns, the Macomb County Health Department is conducting a countywide behavioral health risk survey of 1,200 households.

The voluntary survey — which takes about 20-30 minutes — began in November and is currently underway, possibly continuing into January 2016 if the desired resident number has not been reached.

This is the first such survey since 2009, with the previous surveys taking place in 2005, 2002 and 1999. All information is confidential and anonymous.

Data accumulated is presented by age range, gender, race, education level and household income levels.

Health Department Director Bill Ridella said that while the state of Michigan conducts the survey annually, the sample size is not large enough to display strong analysis.

The county survey covers a plethora of different health-related areas, including: exercise habits, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, nutrition, cancer screening, immunization status, mammograms, colonoscopies and leisure time.

Only adults ages 18 and older are surveyed, and different demographics are surveyed with the aid of Michigan State University’s Institute of Public Policy and Social Research. Ridella said MSU has been conducting surveys for a number of years for the state and is skilled at doing so. Using its trained staff adds value, saves time and is cost-effective.

The aim of the survey is to understand how residents in a designated area live their lives; whether they are improving or growing less health conscious, and how trends impact society.

“What we’re really examining are people’s health behaviors and their health status, medical conditions, preventative health care practices,” Ridella said. “This gives us a good snapshot of what people’s behaviors are so we’re able to ask questions.

“Part of it has to do with issues related to obesity, because we do know that obesity and lack of activity do lead to chronic disease. As we look at this data, are there things we can do with our partners — what kind of interventions can we do to help our health priorities?”

There is one particular trend that is alarming to health professionals, though.

“(Through the survey) we’ll be able to make comparisons and trends going up and down, but have seen our chronic disease trends going up,” he said. “That is due to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, asthma.”

He added that the survey’s importance is notable in its current timeframe, as there are more people with insurance now than in 2009 due to Medicaid expansion and more health care coverage provided through the Affordable Care Act.

And while some trends, like chronic diseases and hypertension, have increased over time, others have decreased for the better. For example, cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption became less prevalent from 2005 to 2009.

In 2009, 1,086 county residents participated in the survey. Results showed that 12.2 percent of individuals stated their general health was either fair or poor, while the proportion changed 7.3 percent between people in the 18-24 age range and those ages 75 years and older.

The proportion who reported fair or poor health levels was consistent with lower income levels.

Another notable statistic from 2009 is that an estimated 12.7 percent of adults 18-64 had no health care coverage at all.

Ridella said the current survey is expected to be significantly analyzed in February or March of next year.

“We hope to have a report that will be available for our health care partners, being able to release results sometime in July,” Ridella said. “The results are for community partners, providers, researchers and the public. It’s a very valuable survey.”


Those interested in looking at past surveys can do so by visiting