Baseline Assessment of Health Needs in the Community
The Baseline Assessment was available online and as paper copies around town throughout the month of January 2016 (SurveyMonkey), with almost 600 responses received to date. Some of the more interesting findings from the Baseline Assessment, which informed the prioritization of the Work Plan include the following:
Access to Healthy Foods/Nutrition
Although the majority of respondents (85%) believe food stores in Bristol carry a variety of healthy food choices, only 47% agree they are offered at comparable prices as compared to farmer’s markets, roadside stands and community gardens. Conversely, only 32% of respondents think food stores in Bristol promote healthy eating through coupons, low price promotions, and signs, while only 28% think restaurants in Bristol promote healthy eating through nutrition information, healthy menu options, or by serving moderate portions at reduced prices.
Bristol residents are active, with almost 62% of respondents participating in regular exercise during the week. Almost 78% of respondents think Bristol has a system of well-maintained sidewalks and paths that allow for walking and biking in the Downtown. However, the majority of respondents do not feel the same regarding walking and biking along commercial areas (50%) and within neighborhoods (49%). Respondents also felt very strongly that the Town does not offer opportunities for indoor swimming (75%) or swimming lessons (56%) – also recognized as a general safety concern given that Bristol is a coastal community surrounded by water, and walking indoors after hours/during inclement weather (69%). In fact, 69% of respondents indicated that if the Town had an indoor swimming facility, they would use it. Interestingly, only 35% of respondent believe that recreational opportunities are accessed by residents of all income levels and abilities.
Personal Health and Wellness
A consistently overwhelming number of respondents indicated they are not aware or unsure of any town-sponsored services related to obesity (86%), high-blood pressure/hypertension (80%), cholesterol (89%) or blood sugar/insulin levels (82%). Similar numbers were reported for awareness of any chronic disease monitoring or preventative care programs (86%). While the majority of respondents are not aware or unsure health care, mental health and/or social service agencies have a system to connect residents to community-based resources, almost 51% indicated they would be interested in such programs if offered at low/no-cost to residents. An overwhelming 95% of respondents indicated they have a primary care physician.
Substance Abuse Awareness and Prevention
At least half of all respondents indicated they believe there is a problem in Bristol with heroin, cocaine, marijuana, prescription medication abuse, alcohol, and cigarettes. More education and more counseling/support were indicated as the top solutions to address these alarming statistics.
Public Transportation in Support of Healthy Living
An overwhelming 79% of respondents indicated they have never used RIPTA services. However, the majority of respondents also indicated they are unaware of any local groups (in Bristol or the East Bay) working to improve RIPTA options to recreation facilities, food stores, or medical/health visits. Almost 74% of respondents did indicate they felt if an alternative, free/low-cost town-sponsored transportation system was available it would improve opportunities to connect residents to recreation facilities, food stores, or medical/health visits.
Community Design in Support of Healthy Living
Only 35% of respondents believe the Town is developing/redeveloping to improve opportunities for walking and/or biking, and that around the same percentage believe that schools and businesses encourage walking/biking through the provision of amenities such as bike racks, safe approaches to buildings, and sheltered/resting areas. Access to food stores and restaurants by people with disabilities is supported at only 35%.
Community Engagement in Support of Healthy Living
Almost 50% of respondents indicated that they know their neighbors and engage regularly with them. Bristol residents also take pride in their community, with the majority of respondents indicating they would call 911 when witnessing youth loitering, causing vandalism, or exhibiting destructive behavior in their neighborhood.
When asked what respondents need to live a healthier lifestyle, respondents answered with more physical activity opportunities (64%), affordable healthcare (25%), and more education (20%). Barriers to living a healthier lifestyle included time (60%), cost (37%), and access (22%).