Long Island’s top health concerns

Janine Logan is the director of the Long Island Health Collaborative. The Long Island Health Collaborative and its partners support access to affordable and nutritious foods and encourage residents of all ages to walk.

Concerns about cancer run high among Long Island residents. That’s what a recent analysis of community health data collected by the Long Island Health Collaborative (LIHC) revealed.

The Community Health Assessment Survey asks Long Islanders’ and Eastern Queens residents’ about their health concerns for themselves and their communities. The data is used by hospitals, county health departments, community-based organizations and other social and health services providers to offer programs that best meet the needs of local communities.

When asked about the biggest health concerns for themselves and then separately about the biggest health concerns in the communities in which they live, respondents in all three regions listed cancer in the top three most selected choices for both of these questions. Cancer also landed in the top three most selected for these two same questions in the January – June 2017 analysis. Many cancers are now considered chronic conditions by treatment specialists, requiring medical management over the course of years and even decades. This is due to advances in pharmaceutical and treatment interventions and greater screening rates among the general population.

The analysis also showed concerns about nutrition are at the forefront of the minds of Long Islanders. When asked what is most needed to improve the health of their communities, healthier food choices was the most selected response across the three regions. Food insecurity – the state of not being able to afford and/or find nutritious food in one’s community – has increasingly caught the attention of public health leaders, health providers, and even health insurers, as this factor is one of the social determinants that affects a person’s health outcomes, especially if they suffer from a chronic disease.

The Community Health Assessment Survey is just one data component that paints a picture of the health of residents of the region. It is a primary data source which delves into residents’ perceptions about their healthcare needs, barriers to accessing health care, insurance coverage, and more. It is part of the Population Health Dashboard , a tool that displays data by state, county, and zip code.

Patients play a key role in ensuring their own good health by adopting healthy behaviors and adhering to treatment plans. The dashboard is an excellent resource for healthcare providers and also for residents to get a sense of the burden of disease on their communities by looking at the dashboard.

A healthier community leads to a more robust local economic infrastructure and prosperity. Health connects it all.