Public Invited To Help Shape Healthier Communities

By on July 3, 2013

Submitted. Everyone knows we are what we eat, but our health and well-being are also closely linked to where we live and what we do. Understanding exactly how these factors impact one another is at the heart of My Health My Community, a new web-based health and wellness survey developed by Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), Fraser Health (FH) and the UBC Faculty of Medicine’s eHealth Strategy Office.

“My Health My Community is an opportunity for us to learn how our lifestyles, our neighborhoods and our environment all come together to affect overall health and well-being,” says Dr. Jat Sandhu, regional director of public health surveillance at VCH. “This survey is incredibly valuable because it will enable us to share the most up-to-date health and lifestyle information with local governments, health care planners and community stakeholders and help them shape policies, programs and community services that lead to better health.”

My Health My Community aims to collect survey responses from at least two per cent of the population aged 18 and older living in the VCH and FH regions, encompassing communities in Metro Vancouver, along the Coast and the Fraser Valley. Residents are encouraged to provide information about their health status and lifestyle choices (i.e. smoking habits, fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity levels, stress levels) as well as levels of community involvement to establish a picture of population and community health. Respondents will be able to complete the survey in either English or Chinese—additional languages will be available at a later date. The online component will also be supplemented with in-person surveys to ensure a broad, representative range of people are included.

“My Health My Community will help us understand all of the determinants of health and wellness in our communities so that we can help shape healthier social, economic and physical environments,” says Dr. Victoria Lee, Medical Health Officer at FH. “We’ll also be able to identify what’s preventing people from getting healthier so we can work to improve their lives.”

“Information at a community level needed to determine priorities and gaps is not widely available,” says Dr. Kendall Ho, professor and director of UBC’s Faculty of Medicine’s eHealth Strategy Office. “The combination of available technology such as the use of online surveys, real-time data capture in the field on mobile devices and the use of social media in raising awareness provides an ideal set of circumstances to have more comprehensive and efficiently gathered information. My Health My Community will change how we assess the health of communities.”

The survey team is seeking between 40,000 and 50,000 responses (over the next year), and all residents are encouraged to participate whether they’re healthy or not. The project will have strict security measures in place including data encryption and highly secure access systems, to safeguard those providing personal information.

For more information about My Health My Community and to access the survey, visit http://www.myhealthmycommunity.org/.

VCH is responsible for the delivery of $3 billion in community, hospital and residential care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola.

Fraser Health provides a wide range of integrated health services to the largest and fastest growing population in B.C. The health authority is committed to improving the health of the population and the quality of life of more than 1.7 million people living in communities from Burnaby to White Rock to Hope.

The eHealth Strategy Office carries out research, community engagement and educational activities to explore how modern information and communication technologies (e.g. mobile and web-based applications, etc.) can improve health care. Though there are several research groups in eHealth or Health Informatics in Canada and worldwide, the eHealth Strategy Office uniquely combines research and educational expertise in eHealth and community engagement projects.

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