Prince George’s County residents cite that HIV, heart disease, behavior/mental health, and a poor economy are among their top health concerns, according to a survey. The first ever Community Resident Survey was organized by the county’s health department, which partnered with Prince George’s Community Hospital, Laurel Hospital, Fort Washington Medical Center, MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital, and Doctors Community Hospital from March 14-April 8 to identify the county’s health-related needs. A final report will be released in June but the Prince County Health Department was not all surprised by the results.
“It was kind of all over the map,” Health Officer Pamela Creekmur told the AFRO. “The survey was to give the community a chance to give feedback on what they think the big issues are. It was really their perception.”
The 22-question survey was accessible online or in paper form and open to the county’s 900,000 residents. A total of 316 residents completed the primarily multiple-choice based questionnaire, with 201 residents completing the survey in English and 115 in Spanish. Of the English-speaking participants, 72 percent identified themselves as Black.
Major disparities can be seen between the English-speaking and Spanish-speaking survey participants. Both language groups indicated that the county was “healthy” or “somewhat healthy.” However, 27 percent of the English speaker said that health insurance as a major barrier as opposed to 66 percent of the Spanish surveys, 80 percent of English-speakers saw a primary care doctor within the last year compared to16 percent of Spanish-speakers, and 84 percent of English-speakers reported having healthcare insurance versus 94 percent of Spanish-speakers who do not.
Additionally, the majority of English-speaking participants prioritized chronic diseases and related issues, obesity, and heart disease as leading health concerns while Spanish-speaking survey participants placed more importance on HIV, diabetes, and cancer.
Creekmur acknowledges that collecting surveys over a longer time period could yield different results and suggests a one-year study for future inquiries. Nonetheless, the health department is “ecstatic” over the survey. “Our goal is to continue to convene people so we can develop things that will impact the health of the community,” Creekmur said. “We’re excited to impact some of the big indicators in our community.”
Overall, survey participants noted a need for increased communication and awareness to improve health within the county, followed by community-level outreach to gain more community involvement around the county’s health issues.
All survey participants attributed community health factors to affordable housing, access to good schools, the economy, and crime as top health factors.
Health surveys are required to be given individually by hospitals every three years, and by the health department every five years. This year, Creekmur said timing aligned for all participants. “Raising the guidelines of improving the health of the community – that’s the direction we’re moving in,” she said. “Working collectively, we can make a difference.”