Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Center for Opinion Research

Assessing Community Health

Community Health Needs Assessment, for Healthy Adams County and the Healthy York County Coalition

The Center conducted this in-depth evaluation of community health in York and Adams counties in 2012. Sponsored by WellSpan Health on behalf of Healthy Adams County and the Healthy York County Coalition, our study measured the health status of both communities, focusing especially on preventive care, behavioral health services, and access to care. The research was designed to help implement a community dialogue and set an agenda for further research about community healthcare needs and priorities.

Because there are multiple influences on community health, the Center collected and analyzed data from both primary and secondary sources to identify health issues of consequence to York and Adams counties. A behavioral risk factor survey of 1800 residents focused on the health of individuals and the incidence and prevalence of specific diseases, conditions, attitudes, and behaviors present in the communities. The questionnaire for this survey was based on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey, but customized to provide information specific to York and Adams Counties.

The Center compared current indicators for the data collected in the survey with both state and national indicators, as well as data gathered in prior community health assessments. We cross-tabulated the data to present information by age, race, ethnicity, gender, income group, and geographic area. The data were also compared with the Healthy People 2020 goals, as well as with the estimated U.S. rates for the Prevention Quality Indicators as defined by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Additionally, to identify and document the multiple barriers to health improvement and their relationships to individual health behaviors, the Center collected secondary data from numerous sources, including the Healthy Communities Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of Health Statistics, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the U.S. Census. Hanover, Gettysburg, York, and Memorial Hospitals and Family First Health provided relevant inpatient and outpatient data.

Using the data from all these sources, the Center examined a number of demographic and health indicators, including access to health care, health-related behavioral risks, prevention behaviors, health conditions, and vital statistics related to cancer, communicable disease, maternal health, mental health, mortality, and hospitalizations. Selected economic, education, environment, infrastructure, public safety, and transportation data were also evaluated. The data were examined for the community as a whole, for York and Adams counties individually, and for the Hanover area of Adams County.

The Center’s findings were presented at community planning events in both York and Adams Counties, and provided valuable information on key health trends and the most urgent health-related issues. The data indicated that both counties have notable strengths, including strong healthcare infrastructure, healthy economies, and increasingly diverse and well-educated populations. However, our assessment found that far too many residents struggle to maintain healthy lifestyles, and the rate of depressive disorders and poor mental health days is especially troubling. In addition, the population is aging, the poverty rate is rising, and significant numbers of individuals are overweight or obese. Also, poverty and age are significantly associated with differential outcomes related to access to healthcare, health conditions, and prevention behaviors. Armed with this important information, the Healthy York County Coalition, Healthy Adams County, and their community partners have been able to set new countywide health goals and create several task forces to examine how to reach these goals.