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County planning health survey

July 29, 2002|by DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

dank@herald-mail.com

Approximately one out of every three Washington County households will receive a County Health Department survey within the next week or so asking about health-related matters, the department announced last week.

The results of the survey will be used to decide what problems the department should focus on, County Health Officer William Christoffel said.

"We have a budget of $15 million and we want to know what to spend it on," Christoffel said. "We're trying to serve the community and they can help us set our goals so we can have a healthier Washington County."

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The survey, which is being mailed to 12,000 homes, might be the largest local survey ever, Christoffel said.

The number of households involved in the survey will give the department a more accurate picture of county residents than a smaller survey would, he said.

The 15-page survey includes more than 75 questions on topics such as tobacco use, health insurance, child health and diet.

The survey should take 10 or 15 minutes to fill out, he said.

"Public response to this survey is vital to give us an understanding of our community's health status and access to medical care," Christoffel said. "All responses will be completely anonymous and will be treated with the strictest respect for confidentiality and individual privacy."

The survey forms will be destroyed after the information from them is recorded, he said.

"Citizen responses to this survey will be of great benefit to the county and its municipalities," County Board of Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said in a statement released by the Health Department.

"I encourage everyone who receives the survey form to take time to fill it out and return it. This is a great opportunity for county residents to help shape the future of our health programs," Snook said.

The survey will be conducted by the Johns Hopkins Research Center and will cost about $30,000, Christoffel said.

Similar surveys were recently conducted in Cecil and Harford counties in Maryland, he said. In Cecil County, the survey results prompted the county government to work with local restaurants to promote a healthier menu.

Christoffel said he hopes to present preliminary results from the Washington County survey in October.

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