Landmark Health Survey is Largest Ever for Missouri

Using the New Year as an impetus for change, many resolve to exercise, to diet, or to stop smoking. This year, personal commitments to healthy choices will be measured when residents of each Missouri county are contacted as part of the largest health surveillance survey ever conducted in the state. The survey is supported by a new $1.85 million contract from the Missouri Foundation for Health.

In collaboration with the Missouri Foundation for Health and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the Health and Behavioral Risk Research Center at the University of Missouri School of Medicine will conduct telephone surveys of 52,100 individuals as part of the 2011 Missouri County-level Study of Tobacco Use and Chronic Disease Prevalence. The study’s goal is to generate prevalence estimates of chronic diseases, conditions, and risk factors at the county level. This will allow public health programs to tailor interventions to reflect the needs of the community, said Bill Wells, PhD, director of the Health and Behavioral Risk Research Center.

“This is really an important study, and the demand for this information has never been greater,” said Wells, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Health Management and Informatics at the MU School of Medicine. “We have to maximize and leverage the resources we have, and having access to this information allows us to gauge the impact of projects and programs at the local level.”

Data collection began Jan. 3 as research center interviewers began calling a randomized selection of residents statewide. Through December 2011, the research center will work to complete 400 surveys from each Missouri county, as well as 400 surveys from each of four additional metropolitan areas. A statewide cell phone version of the survey will reach an additional 4,900 respondents.

The one-year survey will create as many as 60 full- and part-time jobs, Wells said.

“Anytime you have a project of this magnitude, there is some positive impact on the community in terms of development,” he said.

Survey questions will center on a variety of health behaviors, including use of cigarettes and other tobacco products, physical activity, and nutrition; and chronic diseases and conditions. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will post the 2011 County-level data on the DHSS website.