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Archive for Tuesday, June 16, 1998

SURVEY: DOUGLAS COUNTIANS HEALTHIER THAN OTHER KANSANS

June 16, 1998

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A survey shows Douglas County healthier than Kansas, except for more drinking, sleeplessness and depression.

Douglas County is generally healthier than Kansas as a whole, a new survey shows, except for higher-than-average rates of mental depression, sleep shortage, and heavy drinking.

``Obviously there's a lot of things that look good in Douglas County,'' said Susan Baker Anderson, coordinator for the Douglas County Community Health Improvement Project, which commissioned the survey.

The telephone survey, conducted in March and April, was of 1,000 randomly selected county residents ages 18 and older. The $25,000 survey was done by Kansas Department of Health and Environment, paid for with a grant from Kansas Health Foundation of Wichita. Results were made public Monday.

Among the survey findings:

  • Almost half of Douglas County respondents, 48 percent, are sedentary, which means they exercise less than three times a week for 20 minutes or more. Almost three quarters, 74 percent, do not exercise regularly, which is five times per week for 30 minutes or more. But those figures compare favorably to Kansans on the whole, of whom 58 percent are sedentary and 82 percent do not exercise regularly.
  • Twenty-one percent of Douglas County participants reported they are overweight compared to 26 percent of Kansans polled.
  • Only 1 percent of Douglas County respondents reported they need help with bathing, dressing and other personal activities, versus six percent of all Kansans.
  • Fewer here suffer high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. And more women here have been screened recently for breast and cervical cancer.
  • Douglas Countians reported they use their seat belts and visit the dentist more often than other Kansans.
  • Five percent here reported they are at medium or high risk of contracting HIV versus 6 percent of Kansans statewide; 12 percent here have suffered an injury that prevented regular activities for at least a day vs. 17 percent of Kansans statewide.

On some survey questions, Douglas County was barely distinguishable from Kansas as a whole.

Those surveyed here reported using tobacco about the same as Kansans in general. Of Douglas County respondents, 23 percent said they had smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lives. Eight percent of Douglas County males reported current use of smokeless tobacco. Percentages statewide were 22 and 9, respectively.

Douglas County survey results were weaker than the state as a whole in only three areas:

  • Alcohol consumption. Binge drinking, or five or more drinks on a single occasion within the past month, was reported by 26 percent of Douglas County respondents versus 14 percent statewide. Seven percent here said they are chronic drinkers, consuming 60 or more drinks in the past month, versus 3 percent of Kansans.
  • Mental health. Seven percent here reported feeling sad, blue or depressed 14 or more days of the past 30 vs. 6 percent of Kansans. Sixteen percent here reported feeling worried, tense or anxious 14 or more days of the past 30 vs. 14 percent of Kansans.
  • Sleep. Here almost one third, 31 percent, reported they didn't get enough sleep or rest the past 30 days vs. 21 percent statewide.

The Douglas County Community Health Improvement Project (CHIP), which was formed earlier this year, is made up of 14 various health groups and agencies from throughout the county.

Baker Anderson said the next step is for CHIP members to choose a type of Douglas County health problem that their joint efforts can help improve.

-- Mike Shields' phone message number is 832-7144. His e-mail address is mshields@ljworld.com.

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