|Survey says some health ills, heavy drinking on rise|
|The Press - News|
|Written by Joel Addington|
|Wednesday, 19 October 2011 13:44|
More adults in the county have arthritis, asthma and high blood pressure today than three years ago, according to survey results released last month by the Florida Department of Health, and more are drinking heavily and lack access to healthcare as well.
The 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, or BRFSS, has been collecting and reporting data since 1986 using random telephone surveys of residents 18 years or older, but only in 2002, 2007 and 2010 were county-level surveys conducted.
More than 35,000 Floridians responded to last year’s survey and 510 were from Baker County.Given the struggling economy, it’s not unexpected that fewer people overall would report having health insurance or seeing a doctor in 2010 compared to 2007. But the survey results also show those declines were larger among men and residents with a college education.
Overall, respondents who said they had some type of health coverage fell 2.3 percent while men reporting the same dropped 8 percent. Among those with less than a high school level education, however, the percentage rose 7.2 percent, and those with post secondary education dropped 5.6 percent.
Still, some preventative care like flu shots and certain cancer screenings are becoming more common among the adult population.
The percentage of adults who reported receiving a colonoscopy to detect colon cancer, for example, rose 18 percent between 2007 and 2010 to 65.7 percent.
The share of men over 50 saying they received a common prostate cancer test known as the PSA [Prostate-Specific Antigen] test sometime within the last two years jumped 9.2 percent to 75 percent. The survey showed a much larger increase of 32.4 percent among men over 50 with a high school level education.
County health department director Kerry Dunlavey said the release of BRFSS data helps to spread awareness in the community about a range of health and behavioral issues, now more than ever. Last year’s survey, for the first time, included questions about drinking and driving, seat belt use, dental care and the myth that mosquitoes can transmit the AIDS virus.
The percentage of adults who admitted to heavy or binge drinking, a response measured in 2007 and again in 2010, grew by 1.6 percent to reach 16.5 percent of all respondents, largely due to an 8.1 increase among males.
The survey showed a 5.4 percent drop among females.
Close to 95 percent of those surveyed reported “always” or “nearly always” using seat belts while 1.8 percent said they had, in the last 30 days, driven a vehicle after consuming too many alcoholic beverages.
Fifty-five percent said they’ve visited a dentist or dental clinic in the last year and 53.5 percent indicated a teeth cleaning during the same period.
Nearly one third of adults under 65 years old — 28.7 percent — said they thought they could contract the AIDS virus from mosquitoes.
“We look at the data and compare it to other sources,” said Ms. Dunlavey about the usefulness of BRFSS and other health surveys. “Then we go back and make sure our strategic plan is aligned to the data. We want to see if what we’re focusing on is what we need to be focusing on.”
Among the more encouraging trends for public health officials in the Baker County survey were reductions in respondents who acknowledged they smoke, fewer people reporting they’re overweight (though those indicating obesity rose 3.6 percent), more saying they’ve been tested for HIV, fewer with high cholesterol diagnoses and improved diabetes management.
Ms. Dunlavey noted the health department’s tobacco cessation and diabetes management programs as possible causes for the gains in those areas.
For more information about the survey and the complete Baker County report click here.
|Last Updated on Friday, 21 October 2011 07:52|