PHMC releases Southeastern PA Household Health Survey results

The 2018-2019 Southeastern Pennsylvania (SEPA) Household Health Survey (HHS), conducted by Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC), focuses on timely data and health indicators, including vaping, sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, obesity, various chronic conditions, health screening, older adult daily limitations, and prescription pain medications. The survey has been conducted every two to three years since 1983 to offer a window into social determinants of health for the region’s residents.

“The Household Health Survey provides a unique, one-of-a-kind local snapshot of community health in the region. Findings from the survey can help us better understand how social determinants of health, or social, economic and environmental factors can impact an individual’s wellbeing,” said Mary Harkins-Schwarz, Senior Project Director in the Research and Evaluation Group at Public Health Management Corporation. “Data gathered through the Household Health Survey help us to understand why some individuals and communities are healthier than others. It is a critical resource for assessing health inequities, and informing responses to address these inequities.”

The HHS is the most comprehensive health survey in the SEPA region and the largest sample from a concentrated local population in the country, covering 7,500 households in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. The collected data are weighted and analyzed at regional, county and even smaller geographical levels. Data are based on ZIP code or census tract clusters, offering comparable information and opportunity to improve community health, starting with and informed by SEPA area residents.

A few notable findings from the HHS, examining SEPA as a whole, include:

Prescription pain medication use/misuse was added to the survey in 2018 with findings that demonstrate the continued need to address misuse regardless of residential region.

    o One-third of adults have taken a prescription pain medication in the past year. Among these adults, 26% report misusing the prescription pain medication (taking a prescription pain medication without a prescription).

    o There are marginal differences among adults from suburban (28%) and urban (25%) neighborhoods in misuse of prescription pain medication.

    o There is a gap in care for individuals diagnosed with a mental health condition. More research is needed to understand where and why these gaps exist.

    o Twenty-two percent of adults have ever been diagnosed with a mental health condition and 57% of these adults are currently receiving mental health treatment.

    o Among the insured, of those who had a mental health condition, 59% were currently receiving treatment compared to 41% among the uninsured.

Cigarette smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States; the scientific community is beginning to identify harmful effects caused by e-cigarettes.

    o Fifteen percent of adults in the SEPA region currently smoke. Among current smokers, 50% tried to quit in the past year.

    o The proportion of adults who used an e-cigarette/vaped is increasing. In 2015, 7% of adults used an e-cigarette compared to 8% of adults in 2018 (responses based on “past month”).

Obesity levels continue to be key factors in Philadelphia and across the nation contributing to physical and behavioral health issues.

    o Three of 10 adults are considered obese.

    o Children between 6-11 years of age experienced a slight drop in levels of obesity; in 2015, 30% of 6-11 year olds were obese and in 2018, 28% were obese.

Despite access to insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace, the uninsured population is growing; and important preventive health services are being missed.

    o The percentage of uninsured adults (18-64) rose from 9% in 2015 to 11% in 2018.

    o 17% of uninsured adults have not seen a dentist in the past 5 years compared to 7% of insured adults.

“PHMC is proud to conduct the longest running, most comprehensive health survey of its kind that informs local government agencies, hospitals, faith-based organizations, and nonprofits so they can better understand the public health needs of the region,” said PHMC President & CEO Richard J. Cohen. “Throughout PHMC’s history, data driven solutions have always been important to us in creating scientific-based programs to better meet the public health needs of our communities, including the treatment of substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health and physical health issues.”

The HHS survey is the largest and most in-depth local survey in the country, covering areas such as mental health, barriers to care, sources of care, health behaviors, health status, screenings, disease prevention and more.

About Public Health Management Corporation
Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) is a nonprofit public health institute that creates and sustains healthier communities. PHMC uses best practices and evidence-based guidelines to improve community health through direct service, partnership, innovation, policy, research, technical assistance and a prepared workforce. PHMC’s Research & Evaluation Group (R&E) is dedicated to helping clients understand their communities, improve their programming, and strengthen their impact by offering a range of methods and technologies to meet the needs of a shifting public health landscape. The R&E Group conducts the Household Health Survey, the largest and most in-depth local survey in the country. To learn more, visit here.


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