Essex County most worried about these health issues, survey finds

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ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — Mental Health. Aging issues such as Alzheimer’s disease. Cancer. These are some of the top concerns Essex County residents have reported in the county’s first community health assessment in 16 years.

On Wednesday, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. announced the results of the recently completed Essex County Community Health Assessment Survey. Conducted from December 2021 to March 2022, the survey asked Essex County residents about the health issues and concerns they face and the barriers they face in obtaining health care.

The survey results were compiled into a 177-page document available on the Essex County website at www.EssexCountyNJ.org/health.

The main health problems identified in the survey were:

  • Mental health issues (58.54%)
  • Aging issues such as Alzheimer’s disease (43.43%)
  • Cancer (42.14%)
  • Obesity and overweight (40.08%)
  • Infectious diseases such as influenza (29.47%)
  • Heart disease (24.58%)
  • Diabetes (23.49%)

Factors contributing to a person’s well-being identified in the survey were:

  • Lack of exercise (61.47%)
  • Bad eating habits (55.32%)
  • Angry and violent behavior (37.59%)
  • Reckless driving (33.95%)
  • Not getting a routine exam (28.90%)

Respondents were also asked about health insurance and the barriers they faced in obtaining health insurance. The answers were:

  • Cannot afford health insurance (73.37%)
  • Don’t know how to get health insurance (9.07%)
  • No need for health insurance (2.51%)
  • Other (15.08%)

Residents who completed the survey were asked a variety of general questions about their general health, diet and exercise habits, access to affordable medical care and prescriptions, and whether they there are barriers they face in obtaining health care. All responses were anonymous and confidential, county officials said.

The data was also analyzed for each municipality, which will allow municipal health workers to gain insight into the well-being of their community.

A total of 21,000 surveys were launched; 11,127 surveys were deemed complete and were included in the survey study. Of the respondents, nearly 72% were white and nearly 15% were black.

Essex County promoted the survey at its three COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites in West Orange, Livingston and Newark, at its Family Assistance and Benefits Division headquarters in Newark, on its website and on social media, and through an email sent to residents. who had been vaccinated at an Essex County facility or registered to receive Essex County updates.

According to officials, the data collected will help the Essex County Public Health Management Office and Essex County Municipal Health Officers create programs and initiatives to raise awareness and promote wellness. Essex County partnered with Rutgers University School of Public Affairs and Administration in Newark to conduct the study.

“I want to thank all of the residents who took the time to participate in the Community Health Assessment Survey,” DiVincenzo said. “Their responses have helped give us insight into the health issues facing our community and will allow our public health unit to be more proactive when planning for future public health emergencies and initiatives.”

Essex County Office of Public Health Management Director Maya Lordo said while the county’s focus over the past two years has been on responding to the coronavirus pandemic, the completion of the community health assessment is an “important step towards understanding the health needs of our community”. .”

“The Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration was thrilled to be asked to work with the county and the health department on this crucial undertaking,” said Charles Menifield, professor and dean emeritus.

“The health of our community is very important and even more important during the COVID pandemic,” Menifield said. “This data is critical to creating good health policies to address the needs and disparities in our county.”

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