By GREGORY ZELLER //
Cancer and substance abuse are foremost on Long Islanders’ minds, at least when it comes to the health of their communities.
So says the latest breakdown of the Community Health Assessment Survey, an ongoing analysis by the Long Island Health Collaborative designed to collect and digest Islanders’ health concerns, about both themselves and the communities they live in.
The most recent study, which compares data gathered between January and June of this year to surveys taken between January and December 2018, identifies heart disease and stroke as the biggest personal-health concerns among both Nassau and Suffolk County residents.
But when asked about their biggest community-focused health concerns, the residents of the two counties cited the same two concerns, in different orders: cancer followed by drug/alcohol abuse in Nassau, the reverse in Suffolk.
Those results were identical to the community-based concerns expressed in the 2018 analysis, according to the LIHC, which has collected and collated some 14,000 individual surveys since 2013.
The data is used by Island healthcare providers, government agencies and social-service organizations to “best meet the needs of local communities,” according to the collaborative, which unites Long Island hospitals, county health officials, insurers and neighborhood physicians with academic institutions, commercial interests and other regional stakeholders.
“Our data analyses are excellent resources for researchers, grant writers, physicians and anyone involved in providing healthcare and social services,” noted Long Island Health Collaborative Director Janine Logan.
Other results from the 2019 analysis point toward regional concerns about nutrition; when asked what’s needed most to improve community health, respondents in both Nassau and Suffolk listed “healthier food choices” close to the top.
Suffolk residents noted more concerns about mental-health issues (specifically depression and suicide) while respondents in both counties listed lack of insurance as their biggest barrier to proper medical care.
Framing it as a socioeconomic imperative, Logan encouraged Long Islanders to not only check out the full 2019 survey results, but to lend their voice to future LIHC data assessments, which only become more effective with increased participation.
“A member of the general population can get a sense of the burden of disease in their communities by viewing the ZIP code-level data,” the director added. “A healthier community leads to a more robust local economic infrastructure and prosperity.
“Health is the undervalued connector.”