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DHHR launches State Health Assessment to measure overall health, well-being of West Virginians

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Department of Health and Human Resources is asking state residents to fill out a survey that measures the overall health and well-being of West Virginians.

Matthew Christiansen

State Health Officer Dr. Matthew Christiansen said results from the West Virginia State Health Assessment (SHA) will allow them to better address public health issues statewide.

“It allows us to get a well-rounded picture of not only what challenges we have with health, but also what success we have here in the state and things that we can build on,” he told MetroNews.

The 10-minute online survey, launched earlier this week, asks residents a series of questions where respondents select “agree” or “disagree” mixed with other multiple-choice answers.

Christiansen said the assessment focuses on more than just health-related issues like exercise, nutrition, healthcare access and substance use. The survey also asks about quality of living, mental health issues, schools, internet access, transportation, homelessness and crime in communities.

“So many other things in our lives and in our health is dependent on where we grow up, what the economy is like and what our family is like,” he said. “There’s so many different issues that impact an individual’s health other than just health care and health care access that we have to take those things into account if we expect to make a meaningful change.”

The last State Health Assessment was done in 2012. Christiansen said a lot has changed since then.

“We do expect some similar trends to emerge such as potentially chronic disease, mental health issues, distance or access to care issues, but we expect new things too,” he said.

The last part of the survey focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic and if residents felt confident in having access to testing, vaccines and accurate information from the media, doctors and the federal government. The survey also asks how they felt at that time and if the pandemic exacerbated feelings of loneliness.

Participants can also write in their own responses.

The DHHR plans to use the survey results to identify 3-5 priority areas to focus their efforts on going forward. Those areas will be developed into a five-year plan.

“We will then use those 3-5 areas to develop a State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) which will outline a series of policy and funding changes that will materially make measurable impact in those areas that our fellow West Virginians help identify for us through this plan,” Christiansen said.

The survey is available HERE through Oct. 9.

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